From the Publisher
“A smart strength-training plan in which runners can learn how to strength their core and key running muscles.” — Competitor magazine
“…when I'm [running] 30, 40, 50 miles a week, the last thing I want to do is squats on legs that already feel like overcooked spaghetti…Jeff Horowitz has a solution. He's been a running coach for more than a decade and is the author of Quick Strength for Runners.” — Philadelphia Inquirer
“Running is a sport of imbalance. At no point are your feet hitting the ground at the same time. This imbalance creates an opportunity for injury. Our bodies have to be strong enough to handle the complex motion of running. If it’s not, you won’t be running too long… Trusting this program has me running stronger and faster and most importantly injury free.” — Amplify Today
“The exercise program is ideal for runners whose sole goal is running performance. Runners don’t need to lift huge weights or practice resistance training five days per week. What they do need to is to develop a modest degree of well-balanced strength.” — BreakingMuscle.com
“We all know that strength training is important. I have always said that I should do more strength training, but it wasn’t until I started trying this book that I really realized how much it can help me. I started this book before I was back to running, and I believe without a shadow of a doubt that it has had a big impact on my running now. I am stronger, recover easier and have less soreness overall.” — LovingontheRun.com
Read an Excerpt
Let’s start with a bit of honesty: Not all runners love strength training. If you are like most runners, you would rather lace up your trainers and spend time out on a trail or road than work out in a gym. I understand that. You didn’t become a runner to spend more time indoors. There is a whole world of routes to explore when you are out on a run, and none of them pass through a weight room.
But you picked up this book anyway. More likely than not, you did so because you realize that doing nothing but running is not working out so well for you.
Maybe this realization came to you during a layoff from running caused by an injury. Estimates of the rate of injury for runners vary widely, but it may be as high as 80 percent for all runners in a given year and 80 percent for each individual runner over the course of his or her lifetime.
Each of these injuries comes at a physical, emotional, and financial cost. An injury may result in a layoff from running ranging from a week to several months and may require X-rays and MRIs, visits to various physicians, and physical therapy.
The anger, frustration, and sense of helplessness that often accompany these injuries are harder to measure. Injured runners may feel betrayed by their own bodies and isolated from their network of running friends. A long layoff may leave runners wondering if being injured and limited is their new permanent reality. These are hard times for such runners. Frustration often leads them to spend thousands of dollars on products and treatments that often promise quick cures but that rarely deliver results.
I remember one period when I was dealing with a debilitating foot problem. After spending six months visiting different specialists and undergoing various therapies, I realized that had a doctor recommended smearing peanut butter on my foot to speed healing, I would have done it. I suspect that I am not the only runner who would have been willing to do that. Perhaps you have felt that way yourself.
Or maybe you picked up this book because you have read about how strength training can actually help prevent injuries and improve your running. Perhaps you are even doing some strength training already, but you suspect that you could do a better job if you knew a bit more about it.
Whatever led you to be interested in strength training, you have picked up this book, and that’s a good thing. Because all those articles and bits of advice were right: Strength training—the right kind of strength training—will make you a stronger, more injury-resistant runner.
How to Use This Book
The purpose of this book is to take the guesswork out of strength training and present it in a way that any runner can immediately put to use. The chapters that follow will provide you with the knowledge and direction to implement your own progressive strength training plan. Just follow each workout as written and illustrated; it will be like having a personal strength coach come to your home twice a week.
We will begin with an overview of strength training generally and then look at it specifically in regard to runners. We will discuss the equipment that you will need to get started and the types of exercises that you will be doing.
Next, we will review each exercise in detail, explaining why you are doing it, as well as offering options on how to make it more challenging—and effective—once you have mastered the basic form.
Finally, you will be presented with an 8-week detailed training plan that will place these exercises in a progressively more difficult format, challenging you a bit more each week as you build toward your target: improved running form, strength, and overall health.
By the end of the book, you will be able to continue using the program as presented or to make your own program based on the principles articulated here. Ultimately, following this program will not only make you a better runner; it will also leave you better prepared for that other great activity: life.
The only remaining question is when to start this program. If you have a target race on your calendar, start your strength training 9 weeks before the race. This leaves the last week before the race open for resting and tapering. The benefit of choosing this option is that you can put your new strength to work for you when you want it most; the strength that you build during your race preparation will quickly enable you to run better in training and racing.
Another option is to start this program during your off-season, after you have run your goal race. Since most off-season training plans involve a step back in training volume and intensity for a month or so after the goal race is run, the off-season is an ideal moment in your schedule to devote a little time and effort to adding something new to your training routine. Also, having just come through a training cycle and race, you might be a little burned out from your usual routine. Implementing a strength training program could be exactly the kind of change that you are looking for to reenergize your workouts.
The final and perhaps best option is to simply start the program now, regardless of where you are in your running schedule. Remember, the sooner you start the program, the sooner you will begin to reap the benefits, so there is no time like the present to get started.
Before we get the details of the program, though, think a moment about your commitment to strength training. The program presented here should not be just about getting a quick fix for a nagging injury. To run strong and stay healthy, you must commit to making strength training part of your regular routine. Many runners who begin a strength training routine at some point after suffering an injury drop it once their hurt body heals and their memories of desperation and despair fade. Or when they are pressed for time and struggling to squeeze in their regular run, they begin to skip a strength training workout here and there, and soon they stop doing strength training altogether.
In a way, all of that makes sense. Running is a priority and passion for all of us. It lifts our mood, sparks our creativity, leaves us feeling more alive than at any other time of the day, and opens the world up to us. In comparison, there is no strength training plan in existence that can generate these results.
Luckily, the goal here is not to replace running with strength training or even give strength training equal billing in your training schedule. The aim is to include strength training somewhere in your busy schedule, on a consistent basis, a few times a week. This is simply the best way to recover from an injury and help ensure that you will not be sidelined by a debilitating running injury again.