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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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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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4 for Core

The intensity in the room was so thick; one could cut it with a knife. A group of women sitting focused on the screen, watching the live camera view from the lead vehicle; the 100 men competing for 3 slots to make the US Marathon Olympic team. This vivid memory from Charlotte North Carolina in 1996 continues to impact my clinical decision making as a physical therapist. I will never forget the commentator’s announcement that given the same VO2 max, stride length, etc…, “the one with the most stable pelvis wins”!

I decided to write this article from my >20 year experience working with runners. I’ve had amazing hands on opportunities from working with people who like (and don’t like) to run from the beginner to professional, from biomechanical wrecks to those finely tuned machines. This given article only serves as a possible opportunity for those aspired to integrate 4 core stabilization exercises into their training. I have seen many injuries over the years, and feel strongly that prevention is the key. Cross training in all planes is imperative.

In Taber’s medical dictionary, dynamic stabilization is defined as “an integrated function of neuromuscular systems requiring muscles to contract and fixate the body against fluctuating outside forces, providing postural support with fine adjustments in muscle tension. The term usually pertains to a function of the trunk, shoulder, and hip muscles and includes the lower extremity muscles when they are functioning in a closed chain.” In short, the term is used for the development of postural stability and skilled movement control. Principals in stabilization may include: isolation before integration; slow before fast; and correct breathing.

The following, in my clinic experience, are the “4 for the core” that if preformed correctly can prevent many common running injuries. Neutral pelvis is required to perform the exercises correctly. Body alignment is essential with the ear, shoulder and hip being in a line. The pelvis position can be viewed like a bowl; the bowl is level, not dumping water out the front (sway back) or the back (flat back).

1. Plank on elbows: Pelvis is neutral, avoid arching the low back by tightening your abdominals (bring your belly button towards the spine).

Advanced plank on elbows: lifting one leg; more difficult- lifting leg with opposite arm.



2. Side plank on elbow: Pelvis is neutral, visualize yourself between 2 plates of glass and lift trunk toward ceiling.

Read More….

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Crossfit and Running, a Symbiotic Relationship?

If you call yourself a fitness enthusiast, you have by now heard of Crossfit, the latest form of exercise to take the country by storm. Crossfit gyms are increasing exponentially throughout the country as individuals of every variety flock to participate in the latest and greatest in exercise.  Chances are at this point in time either yourself, or someone you know is currently involved in a Crossfit program.

What Is Crossfit?

Pull any Crossfit devotee aside and ask them, “What is Crossfit?”  More than likely you will hear some form of, “Crossfit is constantly varied, functional movements, executed with high intensity.” Great, what does that even mean? Maybe more importantly what could it mean for you? Think about Crossfit like an Easter egg.  The contents of every Easter egg is a complete surprise until you open it. You have no idea what kind of candy might be inside. How much there is. If it’s hard or soft, sweet, sour.  Crossfit is kind of like this. Each day you can expect a one of a kind surprise workout of varying exercises, for a varying amount of time or rounds. The only constant thing about Crossfit is that each day will provide a completely new way to leave you on the floor in a puddle of your own sweat.

As runners, Crossfit’s idea of “constant variation” may seem at first glance to deeply contradict our cultural beliefs in a clear precise training schedule that carefully plans and progresses every minute detail of our runs. However, some of the latest findings suggest that careful planning and progression along with a little chaotic inconsistency may actually produce some of the best runners, and overall athletes.

As a Runner How Can Crossfit Help Me?

The average runner practices little variation in the type or intensity of run. In fact, runners may be the kings of consistency as we consistently follow a carefully planned consistent plan, in order to enable us to run consistently longer. All of this consistency often leaves us training only our long term, or oxidative energy pathway.  Crossfit’s method of constantly varying type and intensity of exercise enables runners to decrease dependence on only oxidative training. The constant fluctuation instead facilitates training in all energy pathways, not just the long term oxidative pathway. This variation in workouts also works to develop what Crossfit deems the 10 physical skills needed to develop fitness:

1-      Cardiovascular and Respiratory Endurance

2-      Stamina

3-      Strength

4-      Flexibility

5-      Power

6-      Speed

7-      Coordination

8-      Agility

9-      Balance

10-   Accuracy

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Postpartum Exercise Part 3: Janae’s Training Log Week 1

"Double the fun!" (Do you sense the sarcasm)

**To view the printable version of a simple postpartum training plan go to Postpartum Training Plan


Week 1: October 17-23, 2011

 Monday 10/23/11

Planned Workout:

  • 30 minute brisk walk
  • Strengthening Exercises: push ups (2 x 10 reps), triceps dips (2 x 10 reps), leg lifts (2 x 15 reps), bridge-squeezers (30 reps), bridge-thigh abductors (30 reps), side planks (hold for 30 seconds each side)

Actual Workout:

  • 42 minute brisk walk pushing double jogger
  • Strengthening exercises: push ups (2 x 10 reps), triceps dips (2 x 10 reps), leg lifts (2 x 15 reps), bridge-squeezers (30 reps), bridge-thigh abductors (30 reps), side planks (hold for 30 seconds each side)
  • I went for a walk around 11 am. It took some time getting out the door, but we did it.  I made sure Teague (newborn) was fed before we left and that Raelee (2 years old) had a stash of animal crackers to munch on while I pushed the two of them in our double jogger.  It was a beautiful day and it felt good to get outside and enjoy it.  Both the kiddos did pretty well for the duration.  Teague was getting a little restless by the end and cried the last seven minutes or so of the walk home.  I passed a couple of people who were out enjoying the weather as well and I could see in their faces they were thinking “That mom needs to get her children under control”.  Overall, I enjoyed the walk despite the fact that my legs were screaming—“run!”

Read More….

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