A Distance Runner Strength Training Program You Can Do at Home

A Distance Runner Strength Training Program You Can Do at Home

Running and strength training are crucial to improving your running performance, especially if you're a distance runner. While logging miles is essential, incorporating resistance training into your routine can help you develop stronger muscles, improve your running economy, and reduce the risk of injuries.

In this blog, we'll give you a comprehensive strength training program specifically designed for distance runners that you can easily do at home.

The Benefits of Weight Training for Distance Runners

Weight training can have a profound impact on various aspects of your running performance. One significant benefit is its effect on muscle mass and body weight. While endurance running primarily relies on aerobic capacity and efficient biomechanics—in short, when you lift weights, you can enhance your overall performance. It also stimulates muscle hypertrophy, increasing muscle size and strength. While some runners may worry that added muscle mass could weigh them down, the reality is that the benefits of increased strength outweigh any potential weight gain.

Incorporating strength training into your running regimen can improve your running economy, which determines how much oxygen is consumed at a given pace. By strengthening key muscle groups involved in running, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core, you can enhance neuromuscular coordination and efficiency of movement. This means you'll require less energy to maintain your pace, allowing you to run faster and farther with less effort. Additionally, strength training can enhance muscular endurance, enabling you to maintain proper form and performance over longer distances and training sessions.

How Resistance Training Affects Running Performance

This type of training plays a crucial role in injury prevention for distance runners. Running places significant stress on the muscles, tendons, and joints, increasing the risk of overuse injuries and imbalances. With strength exercises, you can correct muscle imbalances, strengthen supporting structures, and reduce the likelihood of overuse injuries.

For example, exercises like the Nordic curls and hip abductions target the posterior chain muscles, which are often neglected in traditional running training. Strengthening these muscles can improve running mechanics, reduce the risk of common injuries such as IT band syndrome and patellofemoral pain syndrome, and promote overall longevity in your running career.

Integrating resistance and endurance training into your distance running program can significantly benefit your performance and overall well-being. By developing strength, power, and muscular endurance, you can improve running economy, enhance injury resilience, and ultimately achieve your goals as a distance runner. Whether you're aiming to set a new personal best or simply enjoy the sport injury-free, incorporating strength training into your routine is a worthwhile investment in your running journey.


Before diving into your strength training routine, it's important to properly warm up your muscles to prevent injury and prepare your body for the upcoming workout. Here are three dynamic warm-up exercises to get your upper body and lower body muscles primed and ready:

1. Elephant Walks

Stand up and start bending at the waist, reaching down as far as you can. Pump your knees forward and back to feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Continue alternating legs for 20 seconds.

2. Air Squats

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your chest up and your core engaged, lower your hips back and down into a squat position as if you were sitting back into a chair. Keep your knees in line with your toes and your weight in your heels. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, push through your heels to return to the starting position. Do it for 20 seconds.

3. Glute Bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips towards the ceiling, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for a moment at the top, then slowly lower back down to the starting position. Do it for 20 seconds.

The Workout

Now that you're warmed up, let's dive into the strength training exercises that will target the muscles used most during distance running.

1. Nordic Curls (Slow Eccentric Focus to Target)

Starting Position: Kneel on a soft surface with your ankles secured with the Nordstick, or have a partner hold them.

Movement: Slowly (and I mean like more than a 3-second descent) lower your torso towards the ground while keeping your body in a straight line from knees to head. Use your hamstrings to control the descent. Once you're almost at a point where you can't help but fall to the ground, push yourself back up to the starting position. Try to perform 3-5 reps for 2 sets.

You can also use support bands like the Nordspotter to make sure you don't crash into the floor as you focus on your descent.

Benefits: Nordic curls target the hamstrings, which are essential for powering your stride and preventing injuries such as hamstring strains.

2. Leg Extension with Omnistrap

Starting Position: Sit on a chair or bench with your back supported and your feet flat on the ground. Secure a dumbbell under one foot using an Omnistrap.

Movement: Extend your leg, lifting the dumbbell towards the ceiling while keeping your knee straight. Slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position. Perform 8-12 reps on each leg for 2 sets.

Benefits: Leg extensions target the quadriceps, helping to improve knee stability and overall leg strength, which is crucial for powering uphill sections during a run.

You can do it with or without the Omnistrap, as long as you find a way to safely add weights on your foot.

3. Hip Abduction

Starting Position: With the dumbbell still strapped on your foot with the Omnistrap, stand up your legs straight.

Movement: Lift your leg sideways, keeping it straight and engaging your outer thigh muscles. Slowly lower the leg back down to the starting position. Aim for 15 reps on each side for 2 sets.

Benefits: Hip abduction strengthens the muscles on the outside of your hips, helping to stabilize your pelvis and prevent IT band issues, which are common among distance runners.

4. Hip Flexion

Starting Position: Secure an Omniband or a resistance band on the lower part of your door. Loop the band around your ankle.

Movement: Walk forward and position yourself at a distance where tension is created with the Omniband. Point your foot forward and pull the band, then move your foot back. Alternate legs and perform 15 reps on each side for 2 sets.

Benefits: Hip flexion targets the hip flexor muscles, which are crucial in lifting your knees and driving forward momentum during running.

5. Hip Extension

Starting Position: With the Omniband still secured on the lower part of your door, loop the band around your ankle and face the door at a distance where tension is created.

Movement: Point your foot backward and pull the band, then move your foot back to the starting position. Perform 15 reps on each leg for 2 sets.

Benefits: Hip extension strengthens the glutes and hamstrings, helping to improve your running power and efficiency.

6. Hip Adduction

- Starting Position: With the same Omniband position as the Hip Extension, face the side adjacent to the door. Make sure the tension is still there.

- Movement: Point your foot sideways and slowly bring it back to the starting position. Aim for 15 reps on each side for 2 sets.

Benefits: Hip adduction targets the muscles inside your thighs, helping improve hip stability and prevent injuries such as groin strains.

Get the Full Strength Training Program for FREE

Boost Your 10K Performance: Advanced Training Techniques with a Boston Qualifier

Get 8 weeks of workouts incorporated with your runs, complete with rest times, expert advice, and more.

Incorporating a strength training program into your routine is essential for distance runners looking to improve their performance and stay injury-free. Our FREE 10K Success Program, designed by a Boston-qualifying marathoner and expert physical therapist, can help you reach your goals.

By focusing on key muscle groups used during running and utilizing proper form, you'll develop strength, power, and endurance to surpass your personal best and conquer any distance. Don't let the opportunity to elevate your running performance pass you by—start lifting weights and reaping the benefits today!


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