Happy 2018: Welcome to the Year of Strength

I’m ready to make 2018 your best year of running ever. Will you join me and take the next step with your training?

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We have a lot of strength training for runners material to cover, but let’s take a step back first…

Every January, I like to reflect on the past year and set a theme for the new year.

This helps us accomplish a lot of goals:

  • What did we do right? (let’s do more of this!)
  • How can we improve, tweak, and adjust?
  • What should we celebrate? (there’s joy in running!)
  • Is there an area of running that we’ve been neglecting?

And 2017 was a banner year for the Strength Running community! Not because of any awards or accolades, but because of you.

True.. we hit some great milestones over the last year:

But these accomplishments are not as important as your accomplishments.

I judge SR’s success by the progress of my 1-on-1 coaching clients, custom training plan clients, members of Team Strength Running, and the feedback I receive from runners who invest in our training programs.

And the improvement is coming fast and furious!

Some of our more detailed case studies are examples of what’s possible when you commit:

Josh lost weight, stayed healthy, and ran a sub-5 mile (as a business owner and father)!

Lynsey escaped a frustrating two years of injury problems to run faster than she ever has in the past.

Monte ran a successful first marathon – at his goal weight – while breaking the 4-hour time barrier.

Kira turned 5 years of injuries and thousands of wasted dollars into 4 (healthy) personal bests.

Over the last year, I also added more and more feedback about our training plans (here) and injury prevention program (here) than any other year.

It seems like I get feedback like this on a daily basis. And it makes my day!

But while it makes me feel great that our programs and coaching services have been so successful, I really have you to thank. Because it’s your hard work that’s given you these incredible results.

This would not have been possible without you taking action, investing in yourself, and putting in the work. I can only point you in the right direction

Thank you for all of your hard work over the last year! You make being a coach the most rewarding job I could imagine.

We’re Ready for the Next Step

Over the last seven years, we’ve focused on a variety of themes:

You’ll notice that each area of focus is different – but related.

Even though stretch goals and consistency might seem very different, you can’t accomplish a stretch goal without consistent training!

And this year, we’re building on our previous themes with a more advanced topic: strength training for runners.

Just like our running progresses, so must our ancillary work.

Over the years, our…

  • … mileage must increase if we’re to continue improving.
  • … workouts must become more challenging (or else you’ll hit a performance plateau).
  • … long runs must become more complex and specific to spur more endurance adaptations.

And now, we’re ready to take the next step with our strength training workouts.

I teased this topic in an earlier episode of Q&A with Coach:

Now we’re ready to get a bit more advanced and lift the right way – just like the pros strength train.

Elite runners don’t avoid the gym. And they certainly don’t lift like body builders or CrossFit athletes.

The pros lift for power, speed, and durability.

The right strength training workouts for runners make you faster. They prevent injuries. And they improve your efficiency – allowing you to run faster at the same effort.

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that 2018 is The Year of Strength.

The Benefits of Strength Training for Runners

Strength Training Workouts

Ever since the worst injury of my life left me unable to run for six months, I’ve been on a mission to crack the injury cycle and help runners prevent more injuries.

First, I recognized the incredible benefits of strength training for runners:

  • Stronger muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues
  • Enhanced durability and lower risk of injury
  • Improved mechanics, efficiency, and higher running economy
  • Faster sprinting ability at the end of a race to kick hard and finish strong
  • More power (Speed x Strength = Power – a valuable skill for any runner)

As you can see, there are many reasons to include strength training workouts in your running program!

These skills and positive adaptations build over time. Soon, you’ll experience progress like this:

“I don’t just feel better; I feel transformed – like a brand new runner. I’ve never run like this – with strength and without aches and pains. I’m excited to run and discover what improvements I can make.” – Rebecca

“My hips have never been this strong. Ever! All the kinks I’ve had for so long do not exist anymore and I am enjoying my runs so much more now. And… running sub 8:00’s easily! Thank you!” – Sarah

“I ran a 7:00 mile, a minute faster then my previous PR. I’ve PRed my 5k and 10k multiple times over the last few months. My average pace use to be 9:00 – 9:30 and now it’s 8:00 – 8:30 with some runs averaging sub 8’s.
Looking forward to more injury-free PRs over the coming years.” – Dan

Over the years, my focus on strength training here at Strength Running has mostly been bodyweight routines that you can do anywhere.

These routines have been republished in Runner’s World, Competitor, and elsewhere. They work:

These strength training workouts are runner-specific and will help you prevent injuries and improve your form.

And the best part? They take just 10-20 minutes to complete and can be done almost anywhere.

But the drawback to this kind of strength work is that it’s not as good as it can be. It won’t improve your speed or mechanics (running form) as much as more focused strength workouts.

Bodyweight routines were my introduction to strength training, but relying on only bodyweight work leaves speed on the table:

  • Bodyweight exercise are not power exercises (you need more weight for that)
  • Without heavier weights, the stimulus for strength gains is not strong enough (meaning your strength will plateau)
  • If you want improved economy and durability, you have to get in the gym for better strength training workouts

There’s actually a better way to structure strength training for runners to not only prioritize prevention but also make you faster and more efficient.

Since I’m not a strength coach, I don’t have the expertise to show you more advanced strength workouts.

Until now.

Strength Training for Runners – What to Expect

Over the next month, we’re going to discover what ideal strength training workouts for runners should look like.

We’ll answer a lot of questions:

  • What types of strength work are counter-productive (and should be avoided)?
  • How should strength work be added to a running schedule?
  • What kind of benefits from strength training should we expect?
  • How do you warm up for a lifting session?
  • How much time is recommended in the weight room?
  • Will strength training make me bulk up or get injured?
  • How much recovery is needed in between sets?

Most of the action is going to happen on the Strength Running email list so make sure you sign up here.

I’ll also be sharing tips, quotes, photos, and more on our social media channels. Give us a follow:

Before we start covering more details about strength training for runners, I have one small favor to ask:


Commit to thinking differently about strength training.

Commit to investing in yourself and your running.

Commit to doing the strength work.

Commit to a growth mindset.

And yes, even commit to opening my emails!

If you follow along and apply these lessons, mindset shifts, and strength workouts, then I think this is going to be a watershed moment for your running.

If you commit, this might just be the turning point where you graduate from a “normal” runner to a powerful, coordinated, athletic, strong runner who’s capable of more than ever before.

As you can imagine, I’m very excited to share this new coaching material with you!

To get started, sign up here. Your first coaching lesson will be on its way in just a few minutes.


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  • The exact strength exercises that prevent injuries
  • Workouts that boost your speed (even for beginners)
  • Pacing strategies, coaching Q&A, and more


  1. Josh McCleary says:

    I had been a little lax on my strength training in 2017. It resulted in an Achilles injury that was pretty hard to shake. I’m already benefitting (injury disappearing) from sticking to a strength training plan that Jason has developed and 2018 WILL be the “Year of Strength”.

  2. John McCarthy says:

    “What does your strength training look like right now?”

    Just started over the last few weeks but at the moment:

    Depends on what’s available at the gym, the squat movements are either:

    Barbell front squat, 5 x 5
    Bulgarian split squats, 5 x5
    Single leg cable lunge into standing row (PT move I learned for a hamstring issue) 5 x 5
    Dumbbell walking lunges 5 x 5

    Deadlifts, either Romanian on the barbell, Barbell deadlifts, or Trap Bar deadlifts, 5 x 5

    Hamstring and glute exercises are then done on the mat towards the end with a stability ball. I’m also now doing calf specific exercises to get better stability .

    As for upper Body, Bench Press 5 x 5 , Shoulder Press with barbell, then Farmer’s Carries as a finisher with either DB or kettlebells.

  3. Funny, I was just debating whether or not I should go lift this morning since my planned time was erased by the kids’ two-hour late arrival due to bitter cold. This is the final push over the edge to make me go. Last fall I re-committed to the weight room after several years off and went 1x per week. In January this year I plan 2x a week and then in the spring semester 1x a week again as I prepare for my first 50K in May.

  4. Love this post! I’m currently (inconsistently) doing body-weight exercises for strength. Because of this post, I’m going to put strength work on my calendar and commit to it!

  5. Right now my strength training is following the StrongLifts program. I’m lifting 3x a week – Tuesday after a track workout, Thursday after a speed workout or tempo run, and Saturday after a long run. StrongLifts focuses on 5×5 sets of five different exercises – the squat, bench press, barbell row, overhead press, and conventional dead lift.

  6. I currently strength train 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes. To be honest I have been strength training longer than I have been running. My background is a high school football lineman at 250lbs. Did lots of short sprints back then! I have lifted off an on ever since those football days. Did some running too, but not much. Now I have ran some half Marathon’s and looking forward to a Ragnar Relay Ultra 6 man team coming up in March. Last year I focused on consistency and injury free training and running. Consistent two 6 mile runs a week and 3 day of lifting.

    This year I have selected Front Squats, Sumo Dead Lift, and Clean and Push Press as my 3 main lifts. I will do 3×3 main working sets while bringing up my long run. I will also do some circuit training after my main working sets to add variability. I am also running 3 days a week this winter with Tuesday having an AM fasted slow jog with my dog and a lunch time faster run. Thursday will consist of a 10k run and Saturday will be my long and hilly run. So far I have put in one 10 mile run on the last Saturday of December. I plan on doing another 10 mile run this Saturday and then on to 12, 14, 16, 18. That will put me in a good position for the ragnar relay since I don’t think any of the runs are longer than 10 miles, but will be an accumulated 30 miles or so over two days of running.

  7. I ran to the gym yesterday and did some lifting but I usually only lift when I can’t run. I get overwhelmingly sore which makes my runs for the next several days unbearable. I would love to learn ways to avoid or deal with the soreness because stretching and foam rolling aren’t cutting it!
    As far as the lifting itself I focus on the posterior leg and back muscles. Generally do weighted squats, lunges, straight leg dead lift and a few chest workouts.
    Every other run I follow up with a body weight workout but I think I’m going to start making it an everyday warm up.
    Thanks for your article! I look forward to learning more!

  8. Angela Coleman says:

    I have been consistently doing bodyweight strength training the past year. I do the ITB rehab and standard core routines the most plus some light weights for upper body. I am at the end of a marathon training cycle and have had no major injuries. Just a little ITB irritation. But you’re right, I haven’t gained much in the speed department. One thing that has kept me out of the weight room is not having a clear plan. I am looking forward to the”year of strength” and will jump on board as soon as my marathon and recovery are behind me!

  9. Christina says:

    Ive been doing strength training but only averaging once per week which I try to do whole body including lunges, squats, planks and side planks, I’m adding the ITB routine as I have a weak left glute and throw in some pull ups and push ups. I’d like to try to add at least one more session a week and take it a little more seriously, I feel like I’m rushing through and not giving the focus that I give my running.

  10. What does your strength training look like right now?

    I have actually been really focusing on my strength training over the last 6 months. And actually I may have been spending too much time in the gym and not enough on the trails! After 3 years of injuries this last year was injury free!!

    BUT I am ready to find a better balance between the gym and the trails. As a mother of 2 and home business owner I am only have so much time. That is probably my biggest struggle…balancing it all….strength, core, endurance, flexibility, and mobility work.

    Currently I am in the gym 4-5 times a week for 1 hour…15 min warm up and 45 min workout (2-3 upper body days, and 2 lower body days).

    Lower: I do a lot of front/back/lateral squats, lunges, split squats, RDLs, pistol squats, and hip extensions…
    Upper: I do pull ups, recline, push press, bench/incline/decline press, bicep and tricep work, shoulder raise, shoulder press, exercises uses the cable machine, …

  11. Chris Rudolph says:

    Yah, I’m so happy we’re going to be diving deep on strength training this year! I started strength training 7 years ago & have worked with various trainers over that time but never advanced past an intermediate level. I’ve fallen into the routine described below, but don’t actually know if it’s optimal or if there is a better way of doing things.

    For the past three years I strength train 3 days a week, approx 1 hour per session. One day is heavy – leg press, back squats & deadlifts, one day is mobility focused – TRX, tomahawk routine, kettlebell exercises, and one day is upper body – pullups & chinups, rows, chest press, arm curls & shoulder press.
    Each session starts with the quick warmup routine & an 1/8th mile heavy farmers carry, and finishes with 10-15 minutes of core work (planks, captains chair, hanging while I attempt to write the alphabet with my feet, dead bug, hip rises, etc) and a few of the SR core exercises.
    To mix things up a little every few months I’ll focus on box jumps & battle ropes. The only machines I use are for rows & leg press. Everything else is free weights, medicine ball or kettlebells.
    I’m in the beginning of my current training cycle and plan on pushing my weekly mileages higher than I ever have before. To compensate for this I’m going lower the intensity (but not volume) of my gym sessions to (hopefully) keep from over training.
    I’m looking forward to learning a lot more about strength training in the new year!

  12. For the past 3-4 months I’ve been doing SAM work (Coach Jay Johnson’s routine). SAM Hard after workouts and long runs and SAM easy on other days. It’s mainly lower body stuff. I also try to get pushups in more days than not.

  13. David Martinez says:

    I was suffering ITBS and I was very sad when not running a looking at others doing their workouts. I bought the SR program and started doing the strength trainings putting my running in the middle of the sandwich. After 2 months of starting and slowly increasing distance, I am now back again doing my daily and Sunday 21K long runs with no pain at all. Thanks a lot Jason!!!!

  14. It sounds great but I am unable to lift more than about 2kg due to a permanent wrist injury. So it’s bodyweight all the way unfortunately. My goal is to get faster by doing more hills.

  15. Laurie Grandmont says:

    I do not belong to a gym so would like to continue to strengthen my core and legs for distance running with what I can do at home. I have recovered from two stress fractures in my left toes (different time periods) and tend to have tightness in my right knee. I am persistent with my goals and would appreciate any strategies to help me become a consistent and strong runner for my age and abilities. Thanks Jason!

  16. Ellie Raghavan says:

    “What does my strength training look like now?” Pretty much nothing, to be honest. Before I got into running I was at the gym lifting heavy multiple times a week, but I didn’t find shooting for lifting PRs fun or motivating and my barbell squats started to scare me the heavier they got (or rather, scare my knees), so I quit after a few years and got into running, which I like much better and which feels more organic to me. It’s hard for me to get into a sense of flow at the gym since it involves constantly doing something different. My gym rat husband will be thrilled to hear that you advocate for strength training for runners, though! He is always trying to get me back there, lol.
    In sum, I am excited for the focus this year, especially how to incorporate strength training into a busy runner’s schedule! Currently training for a spring marathon, and
    I think I will be more motivated to strength train if I know it will help my running :).

  17. Ever since I had to stop with strength training my speed and distance due to injuries decreased due to injuries. I used to do proper kettlebell training:
    Mondays – upper body.
    Tuesdays: Core.
    Wednesdays: Lower Body.
    Thursdays: Cardio.
    Friday: Circuit 30min speed workout.
    I never used too heavy kettlebells, but focused more on technique as well as finishing my daily goals – This gave me a strong mind to overcome any challenge. Remember that a poor technique can cause injuries.

    My opinion:
    Have a core goal (such as a half marathon) as well as daily goals to complement this core goal.

    Unfortunately weights are out for me as I have no strength in my arm due to permanent damage after my accident, but I will work around it to get back into a program fit for me. (Jason, I am looking forward to this year)

  18. Sébastien says:

    I am a member of Team Strenghrunning since almost 2 years now. I started with the ITB routine to fix a glute issue. It worked perfectly! I followed then coach Jason advice and apply all the routines (dynamic warm-ups, and post run strength routine). It allows me to go thru 2017 without injury and so to increase my mileage from 60km/week to 90…which had a huge impact on my race time as I PRed all distances which includes improving marathon time from 3.44 to 3.09 in 18 months! So it works, and I cannot wait for the year of the strength to bring my running to a new level!

  19. What your strength training looks like right now?

    Well it’s pretty much ZILCH. This post has made me realise the basic mistake which I have been doing with my run routine ie; zero focus on strength training. I have been only running with no emphasis on strength exercises. It’s a wake-up call & I would like to incorporate the strength training in my routine. However, I would request guidance with respect to which exercises I should be doing & on which days. I will be starting my first half-marathon training regimen coming week with four training days per week & one long week-end run day.


  20. I’m so excited for this. I had already set strength building as my main physical goal for the year. Thanks for all you do!


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