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5 Common Mistakes with Strength Training

To maximize the results of your running, no matter what your objective for running is (lose weight, improved health, competitive runner, etc.), it is absolutely crucial to incorporate some distance running specific strength training.  If done the right way, strength training has many benefits for runners, including increasing running speed, improving running economy, improved body composition, and lowering the likelihood of injury.  However, oftentimes runners incorporate strength training incorrectly, making it so they are not able to experience the benefits that they potentially could through strength training.  The following are 5 common mistakes that runners make with their strength training.

#1 – Doing the exact same workout time after time after time, without progressively overloading the body by increasing reps and/or weight with the exercises you perform, and without any variation in the actual exercises you perform is a big mistake.  Without progressive overload, and without some variation in your workouts, your body will quickly plateau, and you will see minimal results.  You should always be looking to challenge yourself from one workout to the next by either doing more reps or more weight than you did the previous workout.

#2 – Taking variation too far.  Although there does need to be some variation in your workouts as far as which exercises you are doing, you should not take variation to an extreme.  A lot of people who know that they shouldn’t do the exact same workout all the time take the concept of variation to the other extreme end of the spectrum and are totally random in what they do.  You do need to systematically cycle through the same exercises so that your body has a chance to adapt to specific movements.  It’s good to keep your body “guessing” to a certain extent, but not to the extreme where nothing ever becomes familiar.  Too much variation and no clear direction with your training will make it so you will see minimal results.

#3 – Doing legs only.  Most people primarily think of strengthening their lower body and core for running, but regardless of your purpose for distance running (race prep, losing weight, overall health, etc.), upper body strengthening absolutely should not be overlooked.  However, there are a few things that should be taken into consideration when it comes to training your upper body.  First, make sure you train in a balanced manner.  An example of that is if you are going to do some pushing movements (Bench press, Pushups, etc.), make sure you do at least as many pulling type movements as well to balance things out.  Another thing to consider is that for most people, when they are running, their arms are in a neutral position.  Simply put, this means that the palms are facing each other as they run.  Try tweaking your upper body exercises (bench press, rows, etc.) to be in this same neutral position that will translate directly to moving efficiently when running.

#4 – Doing only bilateral movements.  Some of the most popular and common lower body strength exercises are squats, deadlifts, leg press, etc.  These exercises are considered bilateral movements – movements where both right and left sides of the body do the same thing simultaneously and work in unison to move a load.  Running on the other hand is a unilateral movement – when the two limbs do two different/independent movements at the same time to move a load.  With this being considered, although there isn’t anything wrong with including bilateral movements in your strength training program, if you are a runner, it is crucial that you also include unilateral movements such as lunges and step ups that are more specific to the movement of running.  If you are going to do one or the other, as a runner, go with unilateral movements.  Not only will they improve your strength, but they will improve the efficiency in which you move while running.  You need to keep this in mind when strength training your upper body as well.  An example of this would be if you are doing a dumbbell bench press, you could alternate arms within a set, instead of just having both dumbbells moving together.


#5 – Not paying enough attention to correct technique.  Distance running injuries are frequently caused by muscle imbalances and asymmetries, that if not dealt with, become deeply ingrained by the repetitive movement of running, and the body breaking down as a result of dealing with continuous inefficient movement.  With that being considered, when incorporating a running specific strength training program, it is extremely important to perform each exercise with perfect technique.  With perfect technique, the exercises can serve as both strength AND corrective exercises, slowly correcting the muscle imbalances that have become so ingrained from your running.  On the other hand, if your exercises are done with incorrect technique, your body will just continue to ingrain the same muscle imbalances that have developed over time with your running.  So, not only is it important that you incorporate strength training in connection with your running, but it is equally as important that you perform your strength training exercises with perfect technique.  This will help you move more efficiently as you run, and will significantly lower the likelihood of injury.


Coach Eldon Brough, who currently holds the position of Head Strength Coach at Utah Valley University, has a decade of experience working with high level collegiate and professional athletes (Utah, UC Davis, Detroit, Dixie State, Westminster, Real Salt Lake, Utah Jazz).  Brough, a graduate of the University of Utah, is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association with distinction as a Registered Strength & Conditioning Coach, and is Certified in Applied Functional Science and 3D Movement Analysis & Performance Systems through the Gray Institute.  Check out his website, www.strength4running.com, follow him on twitter – @ebrough25, and reach him by email at eldonbrough@yahoo.com.  

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Five Things to do While Injured

by: Preston Johnson

Being injured is tough. Not being able to get out the door and run, or feel the pavement beneath your feet as you run, the breeze on your face as you fly down the road, or even the strain in your legs as you finish a hard workout. It can be both mentally and physically debilitating. As I go through setbacks in running I try to focus on five rules I have set for myself to help me through the injury.

1. Get Healthy: This first one is pretty obvious, but you would be surprised how often it is forgotten. Being injured often means more than just not running, it means taking a break from anything that causes discomfort to your injury.
It also means taking the necessary steps to getting healthy, if your injury requires physical therapy get it, if your muscles need a sports massage you need to get one, if you need to be on crutches make sure you use them consistently. Injuries don’t just magically disappear so make sure to introduce them to the treatments that will be of the most benefit. Read More….

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Shoes: Function or Fashion

“Are my shoes cute?”  A question you may have asked yourself, or have been asked by someone else. Or possibly you have pondered the questions, “What is the best shoe for me?” or “What type of shoe should I wear?”  Although I think these last two questions are valid and are more pertinent to this article than the question, “Are my shoes cute?” I think the latter question may need to be re-phrased. The question more appropriately should be, “What type of shoe shouldn’t I wear?”

There are likely multiple shoes out there that will do well for a particular runner. As you are aware we are all unique individuals, including our feet and running gait. Shoe companies have had a big impact on what a runner will choose to wear for their running shoe; the newest model, the cutest patterns or colors, the type of shoe for your foot type, what the current fastest professional is wearing, etc.  Through the years you have probably seen changes in shoes, and some shoes have had drastic differences. On one side you have the extra thick Hoka and on the other side you have the thin Vibram five finger shoe (or even no shoe at all). The scope of this article is to talk about different aspects to consider when choosing a running shoe and how to use your shoes to your advantage. Read More….

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Trail Running Can Prevent Injuries. Say What!?

by: Janae Richardson

When we think about the topic of injury prevention a lot of things come to mind…icing, massage, foam rollers, strengthening exercises, etc.  What if I told you trail running could also be added to this injury prevention list? Say what!?  I know right now you are picturing rolling your ankle, tripping over a rock or root, falling off a steep cliff, or running into a rattle snake.  While these are all possible risks of trail running, one could contend that while running on the roads you could just as easily trip over a curb or pothole, get bit by a dog, or even hit by a car.  The truth is, trail running has some definite injury prevention benefits and here’s why…

Read More….

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Ice Bucket Challenge – Runners have been doing this for years!


The Ice Bucket Challenge!

While we don’t want to downplay the widespread participation in the Ice Bucket Challenge or the fact that the ALS Association has been able to raise 100 million dollars (a 3,500% increase from the $2.8 million ALS was able to raise during the same period of time last year), we do take pride in the fact that runners once again are able to “one-up” the average person.  While people are dumping buckets of ice water over their heads and experiencing the cold rush for a minute or so, runners for years have been participating in ICE BATHS where we immerse our bodies up to our chests in ice water for 10-15 minutes!


So what are the benefits of ice baths for runners and what are the best conditions for an ice bath…

Benefits of an Ice Bath

  • reduces inflammation and muscle soreness following an intense workout
  • reduces the drop in performance that follows a hard, long, or fast workout

What are the best conditions for an ice bath

  • STAND IN DEEP WATER. The bulk of the advantage from ice baths actually seems to come from the water pressure not the cold water temperature, so the best way to do an ice bath is if you can stand in a pool, lake, or river.  Although less beneficial (because of less water pressure), sitting in a fairly shallow tub is better than nothing and will still provide some benefit.

So while we’ll show our support with the Fad of the Ice Bucket Challenge, us runners will continue to do what we’ve always done and utilize ice baths as a recovery tool!

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Core Muscle Exercises


Sometimes we put so much focus on getting in the miles, the intense workouts, the long runs, and eating right, that sometimes we neglect to strengthen the area of our body that is going to carry us through all the training and across that finish line. Our core is our foundation. If we don’t spend a little time on strengthening our core muscles 2-3 times a week an injury will find us. 

So check out this video from our friends at Mountain Land Physical Therapy. It contains a few simple core exercises that can easily and quickly be implemented into your training program. 

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