Gym Training for Runners; Can a PT Help You?

Running is one of the most accessible and consequently popular forms of exercise there is. You don't need a gym membership or any experience to get out there and go for a jog, which is why so many people get involved. It doesn't matter where you live, whether in the city or countryside, you can go for a run absolutely anywhere, and here in Canterbury we are fortunate enough to have some fantastic routes. People of all levels of fitness and running abilities can go for a run, and the beauty of it is that you can take it at exactly your own pace, and slowly build up your fitness at whatever rate you see fit. Most people who run are happy going for the occasional leisurely jog with friends or the dog, but many people find themselves falling victim to the 'running bug', and push themselves to a high level of fitness and can even end up competing.

Whatever level of running you partake in, PT sessions can be hugely beneficial for a number of reasons, which I have listed below:

Injury Prevention

A Personal Trainer will undoubtedly have you perform a strength training gym program as a runner with the aim of 'bulletproofing' your body. This may seem strange to be lifting weights and working hard to prevent injuries, however strengthening your muscles makes them more resistant to strains, and more able to withstand the constant impact of running. Whilst a PT should be very knowledgeable about how best to prevent injuries in a runner, they are not physiotherapists, so if you already have an injury or niggle, it's best to get this checked out by a physio before you undertake a new exercise regime. Here at Sterling Fitness, we recommend Charlie Bannigan at the Joy Lane Clinic for physiotherapy and osteopathy:

Increased Performance and Fitness

Your PT will be able to take you through sessions in the gym which will challenge your fitness in different ways to going for a run. You will use different energy systems to increase your all round fitness levels which in turn will improve your performance in your runs. Being able to make sharp increases and decreases in speed and effective changes of direction will cut down your times and allow you to take your performance to the next level.

Learning to Run More Efficiently and Effectively

Most of us will go for a run and not give a second thought to our running technique as we are so focused on getting through the run. Of course this will change over time as fitness develops and improves, however a good running technique is crucial for performance and injury prevention. Changing the way you run can make your life much easier and take less energy, meaning you can give that extra bit of energy to your performance!

Improving Recovery

From working with a PT you will have gained strength in your legs, but also in your core. Improved stability around your ankles, knees and hips will not only greatly reduce your injury risk, but will also allow you to recover quicker.

Adds Variety to Exercise Regime

Many runners will be under the illusion that strength training, or any training other than running for that matter, will make them big and bulky. This is simply not the case! You have to train very specifically to build muscle, and it takes years of dedication and the exact training & nutrition to start to grow. As a runner, you will already be performing too much cardiovascular work to be able to gain muscle from your Personal Training sessions in the gym. So, with that in mind, working out with PT in the gym will add some variety to your routine and will stop you from running every single day. You never know, you might realise that you love it even more than running!

So how should runners train in the gym?

I would recommend that runners stick to compound movements, as these are going to be most beneficial for building strength, balance and coordination. The 3 most important exercises I would recommend as a PT would be the squat, deadlift and hip thrust. As your confidence and ability improves, you can start tackling more explosive movements such as cleans and snatches, as well as anything else that enables you to practice a triple extension. Balance and coordination should also be practiced with single leg work, along with rotational and banded work to improve core strength.

Whilst Personal Training a runner, I would also incorporate sprints into their gym routine. I would do this even for long distance runners, as it's a great way to build explosive power and also enables you to train on steep inclines.

Personal Training really is beneficial to runners of all levels and abilities, however for the more advanced athlete, we highly recommend you look for a professional running coach who can give you the fine tuning that you need for competing. For this we recommend getting in contact with Jack Green at The Canterbury Athletics Academy.

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