Strength Training For Runners

Are you a runner? Are you missing something in your training that could be holding you back? Are you wanting to improve your running performance, running economy and improve speed? If you aren’t incorporating Strength/Resistance Training in your preparation, you could be stunting your performance and increasing your risk of overuse injury.

Strength training is an integral, yet often overlooked, component to running performance.  The research to support strength/resistance training in running athletes is growing as a means of injury reduction/prevention and performance enhancement.

Endurance performance in long-distance running, lasting approximately 7–150 min, is 80–99% dependent on aerobic metabolism. Variance in aerobic endurance performance in running is dependent on the three factors: maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), lactate threshold, and running economy. (1)

Running economy is defined as the oxygen or energy cost to run at a given sub-maximal speed.  Research has shown that resistance training programs performed 2-3 times per week for 8-12 weeks, has a 5% improvement in running economy when compared to those that don’t perform strength training. (2)

A Recent systematic review in 2017 (3) examined the effects of strength training on the performance of middle and long-distance runners.  After analysing 24 articles the authors of the systematic review agreed that Strength Training on 2–3 occasions per week is likely to positively affect performance by improving:

  • Running economy (improvements of 2-8%).
  • Time trial performance (average reduction of 2-5% of total time).

Strength training not only improves performance but is also is a valuable tool in reducing the risk of overuse injuries in the athletic population.  Strength training is effective in developing robust athletes, as to improve tissue tolerance and improve biomechanics of performance.  A systematic review of randomised control trials into the effectiveness of exercise interventions in the prevention of sporting injuries discovered that strength training reduced sports injuries to less than ⅓ and overuse injuries could almost be halved. (4)

If running economy and injury prevention is important to you, then you should definitely consider introducing strength based resistance training into your running preparation.  To find out the best way to improve your strength and conditioning, book an appointment with one of our experienced Physiotherapists here at Sydney’s Bend + Mend and shave time off your running.



  1. Francesca-Piacentini, M, De Ioannon, G, Comotto, S, Spedicato, A, Vernillo, G, and La Torre, A. Concurrent strength and endurance training effects on running economy in master endurance runners. J Strength Cond Res 27: 2295–2303, 2013.
  2. STØREN, Ø., Helgerud, J. A. N., Støa, E. M., & Hoff, J. A. N. (2008). Maximal strength training improves running economy in distance runners. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 40(6), 1087-1092.
  3. Blagrove, R.C., Howatson, G. & Hayes, P.R. (2017). Effects of Strength Training on the Physiological Determinants of Middle- and Long-Distance Running Performance: A Systematic Review. Sports Med.
  4. Lauersen JB, Bertelsen DM, Andersen LB. The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med 2014;48:871-877.







Patrick Nelson

About Patrick Nelson

Patrick joined the team at Bend + Mend following a move to Sydney from the Central Coast, NSW. After Graduating with Honours from Newcastle University, Patrick has developed his career in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy in both Private Practice and the Hospital Setting. Patrick has done further study into Dry Needling, injury prevention programming for strength and conditioning, shoulder rehabilitation and taping methods. Patrick has a strong interest in injury prevention and sports performance. Having a background of working in variety of sports from grass roots netball to professional rugby league, he enjoys getting to the root of your musculoskeletal issue and developing a planned approach to returning you to the pitch, as safely and as soon as possible.

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