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The Dos and Don’ts of Strength Training For Runners

Strength training for running, general health and well-being is important. When your primary fitness goals are running related, how you approach strength training workouts changes. These workouts need to focus on running specific exercises that target your weaknesses and help you achieve your goals.

Getting the most out of your strength training workouts will help you become a better, more efficient runner and prevent injuries. Below are some guidelines to help make you get the most out of your time in the gym.


  • Be consistent.
  • Aim for at least two full-body sessions per week.
  • Move in different directions. Training your body to move in different planes of motion can help reduce injuries and increase running performance.
  • Lift weights that are heavy enough to fatigue your muscles.
  • Visualize the muscles that are doing the work as you perform each exercise.
  • Perform plyometric exercises, as they help increase your body’s efficiency when running.
  • Work with a personal trainer or physical therapist to help identify muscle imbalances and reduce injury.
  • Be aware of your form at all times during exercises. This will increase the exercise’s effectiveness and safety.
  • Understand why you are doing each exercise – randomness has no place in the training process.
  • Include exercises that mimic the same movements as running.


  • Be intimidated by the weight section at the gym.
  • Lift weights that are too light.
  • Move too quickly through exercises.
  • Think you have to spend all day in the gym; 30-minutes is more than enough time to get in a full-body strength workout.
  • Discount the importance of strength training.
  • Increase your mileage without getting strong first.
  • Push through the pain. There is a difference between muscle tension and pain. If you feel pain – stop.
  • Equate a hard workout to a good workout. The two are not necessarily synonymous.
  • Forget to do upper body exercises.
  • Equate strength training to gaining muscle bulk.
  • Follow other friends or runners strength training program. It’s likely not the right program for you.

More strength training tips from Race Pace Jess
This 5-Minute Core Workout Offers Three Different Intensities 
Strength Train At Home With Affordable Equipment

Race Pace Jess

Race Pace Jess

Jess Underhill fell in love with running during a rough patch in life, a time period most people just refer to as middle school. Twenty-six years later that first runner's high she experienced continues to shape nearly every aspect of her life, including her career. She has a Master's Degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, is graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is a UESCA Certified Run Coach. Most recently Jess launched Race Pace Run Club, a free virtual run club that welcomes runners of all levels from coast to coast and also meets in-person in NYC. She is an ambassador for Sparkly Soul Headbands