When I have the time (which, unfortunately is growing less and less abundant lately!), I enjoy making the "rounds" on some of my favorite fitness forums such as JP Fitness, World Fitness, and of course my own Accelerated Strengthprivate forums, exclusive to my online training clients. Personally, I feel that online forums can be a wonderful place to interact with people that share similar interests in health and fitness, as well as a fantastic resource for information and knowledge (and not to mention the occasional Off Topic oddity).
Last week, I answered the following question posted on one of the forums...I thought that it was a great question that I've been asked a number of times by recreational and competitive runners alike looking to improve not only their running time but their injury prevention as well, and I thought that you might all like to read it too:
Q: My friend, a distance runner, needs some advice. He's lifted before and isn't new to lifting, but he's wondering if there are certain lifts and or programs that he should do to help him for his sport (distance running, cross country) I've heard that weight lifting can help prevent knee pain.
Any advice for him?
A: There have been repeated studies of distance running and the effect of heavy weight training to not only improve short term muscle power and stride power in long distance runners, but the ability of a properly balanced weight training routine, along with appropriate soft-tissue work and energy systems training to improve running times, joint health and stability and reduce overall injury risk.
Your friend should be using traditional strength exercises performed at low volumes (1-3 sets, periodized) such as deadlifts and RDL's, as well as unilateral work such as reverse lunges, step-ups and lunges, in a mixture of heavier (4-6 rep range) and somewhat lighter (8-15 rep range) to improve strength and joint stability. He should address soft tissue at the IT band and quads, hip flexors and hamstrings, as well as glutes, adductors and calves, and be mindful not to overstretch (which has no conclusive indication in the literature for being injury preventive and can in fact possibly increase injury potential if it produces hyperflexibility at the joint). He should use at least 1-2 interval sessions and even sprint work as well to supplement his longer runs: he'll see improvements in short-term power and acceleration as well as improved muscular endurance from them.