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Strength Training for Busy Runners

Strength Training for Busy Runners


Hello Run Fast Eat Slow family! My name is Abbi Hamlin, and I am an endurance athlete, strength coach, and sports nutritionist based in Bend,OR. I also have been lucky to spend some time with Elyse this year helping assist with social media. 

A little background on myself - I ran track and XC at Western Washington University, but since then have shifted my focus to off road triathlon and mountain biking, and this year hopefully my first marathon (thanks to Shalane and Elyse’s Rise & Run marathon training plan!).

I’ve learned a lot through the years about training, recovery, and overcoming injury. One of the most important aspects of training that I have focused on the past couple of years is consistent strength training. 

As an athlete, there are many benefits you will receive through dedicating time to building strength. These benefits are not limited to:

  • Better power while running uphill and through speed workouts
  • Stable knees and core
  • Injury prevention
  • Bone density 
  • Benefits to metabolism and overall health
  • Maintaining muscle and strength as we age (especially important after age 40!)

That being said, focusing on strength is a lot easier said than done. Runners have busy schedules–it can be hard enough to carve out time to get in your miles. That time in the gym often gets left on the back burner.

Here are a few simple tips to help you make strength training a routine habit: 

  • Make a Plan
  • There are many templates online as well as strength programs specifically designed for runners. Talk to a trainer at your local gym or a physical therapist, they can help you come up with movements that are right for you. Having a specific plan or program can help you stick with it, as well as help you notice the changes quicker. Just like in running, a training plan will keep you accountable. 

  • Carve out time
  • I like to pick 2 to 3 days at the beginning of each week where I specifically set aside time for strength training.​​ Block that time in your calendar and set alerts or reminders. If you have a full schedule, you can do your strength training on days you are not running. Start with 1 to 2 strength workouts a week for 30 minutes each. Even this small time commitment will make a difference and you can always add another day when it works for your schedule. 

  • Keep It Simple
  • We live in the day and age of crazy social media videos and reels. Fitness influencers everywhere show off fancy moves that look more like a combination of dance and pilates, than strength. To complement your run training we don’t have to overcomplicate it. Simple movements will go a long way with time and consistency. Additionally, there’s a lot of simple exercises you can do at home that require little equipment. 

  • Periodize it around your run training
  • We want strength training to complement our mileage, and add to it, not take away. During the winter months when it’s a little harder to run in Oregon with the snow and shorter days, I tend to up my strength training and focus on building power. During the spring and summer months or “race season” I change the workouts from heavy lifting to focusing on stability, core and mobility. That way I can get the most out of my run workouts without feeling too sore or fatigued.


    You can do alot with body weight, but I thought I would include a few links to equipment that helps maximize training at home so I can spend less time driving to and from the gym.

    Dumbbells: Great for squats, lunges, thrusters, and upper body. (10-15 lbs is a great starting point)

    Mini Bands: Great for glute strength/activation, monster walks, and clam shells (if you’ve ever had runners’ knee you probably know all about these)

    TRX: A little bit of an investment for this one, but the possibilities are endless. From upper body to core work there’s lots of ways to utilize TRX at home.

    12-20 inch Box: Great for Rear Foot Elevated Lunges, Box jumps, Pushups, and step-ups

    Bosu Ball: Great for core work and hamstring movements

    I hope this helps with some motivation around strength training as well as provides some helpful tips on how to incorporate it into your current training schedule. 

    Check out some of Elyse’s favorite movements HERE. Also be sure to read Shalane’s injury prevention advice and Top 5 Strength Exercises in Rise & Run. You can also follow along with myself on my website Wildly Well or Instagram.

    Follow @elysekopecky

    Follow @ShalaneFlanagan