Posted by: Joe English | March 25, 2010

Training — Do I need to do weight training as a runner?

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

Jim from Calgary writes in to us with the following question that comes up a lot:

I just finished reading yet another book on marathon running and in the sample schedules it says that I should be weight training 2-3 times a week. I’m a really busy person and I hate to give up time running to spend time in the gym. Is weight training really that important?

Weight training is important to runners for a number of reasons, some of which are not readily apparent at first blush. Many people think that weight training (also called “resistance training”) is about building big, bulky muscle, but that’s only one partially true. Weight training also strengthens muscles in ways that help reduce injuries, help overcome fatigue late in the marathon and can be helpful in promoting weight loss as well.

The first thing to understand is that there are three distinct types of muscular movements. These three distinct movements — or functions of the muscles — each have a different role in how the body moves or maintains still. The three types of movements are: concentric, eccentric and isometric.
Concentric Contraction— this is the type of muscle action that we think of when we think of traditional weight training. In this type of action the muscle is shortening (contracting) in order to move a load of weight. The bicep curl is good example of this type of motion. As the arm is folded at the elbow by the bicep muscle, a weight is pulled up toward the body.

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