Some days, it just isn’t possible to head outside for a run. The weather may be subpar, you can’t find a safe route or you just want a change of pace. No worries; the gym can provide you with a killer runner-specific workout. Take your pick -- cardio, weights, core or plyometrics. All will help you become a stronger runner.
Just because you are at the gym doesn’t mean you have to skip your cardio. If you still want to run, hit the treadmill. While running on the treadmill is easier than running outdoors, it still serves as a great training tool. Use it to do speed work or a tempo run. Or use this opportunity to cross-train. Cross-training, such as biking, swimming or using the elliptical, helps you avoid overuse injuries, actively recover and become a faster runner. Additionally, if you are feeling a little burnt out from all those miles pounding the pavement, cross-training can give you a break without losing any of your efficiency.
With all those miles you run, you may forget about strength training. But running doesn’t increase power for your stride. You need to use your gym time to correct muscular imbalances and build power so you can run faster and farther. A study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" in 2008 concluded that resistance training has a positive effect on endurance running performance. When selecting resistance moves, choose ones that train the muscles used while you run. Examples of moves include overhead squats, single-leg half squats, single-leg balances, pull-ups and push-ups.
When you are at the gym, take a few minutes on the mat to do a few core exercises. A study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" in 2009 showed that core strength training improved running performance. A few core moves include the lying bridge, side plank, bicycle crunch and reverse crunch. Do each move for 60 seconds.
Just because you don’t pick up any weights doesn’t mean that you can’t build power and strength. A study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" in 2006 showed that three 30-minute plyometric sessions per week improved running economy for middle- and long-distance runners. Make sure your plyometric moves are runner-specific, which means they target your glutes, hamstrings and calves. Examples of moves include rocket jumps, partner glute ham raises, single leg calf jump curls, flying step-ups and single leg rocket jumps. At first do two sets of seven reps each with a two minute rest and gradually reduce your rest interval.
- Runner’s World: How Effective is Treadmill Running Compared to Running Outside?
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Short-Term Plyometric Training Improves Running Economy in Highly Trained Middle and Long Distance Runners
- Stack.com: Five Best Plyometric Exercises for Runners
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: The Effects of Resistance Training on Endurance Distance Running Performance Among Highly Trained Runners
- Runner’s World: Five Exercises That’ll Make You Faster
- Runner’s World: Eight Benefits of Cross-Training
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Does Core Strength Training Influence Running Kinetics, Lower-Extremity Stability, and 5000-M Performance In Runners?
- Runner’s World: Beginner Core Strength Routine
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.