Do You Need To Strength Train to Run Fast?

Running is a great way to get fit, lose weight and feel good about yourself. According to England Athletics, in 2020, there were 6 million people running at least once a week, compared to only 2 million in 2010, 10 years earlier. 


2You are probably running to challenge your limits and become stronger – physically and mentally. However, it can also be incredibly frustrating if you’re not careful with your training regimen. 

The idea of running faster than ever before is exciting – but how do you actually get faster? Is it better to run more miles or do strength training? In this article, we’ll look at how strength training can in fact, make you a faster athlete.

Fast Running 4
Train to Run Fast

Conflicting Information Slows Your Down

If you’re an athlete looking for a way to improve your speed, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there.

Some people will say that running fast requires you to have long legs or strong glutes. Others think that if you want to be faster, then you should work on your technique first.

The reality is that while these factors do play a role in increasing your speed, they aren’t the only things worth considering when it comes to improving your performance.

Should you just run more then?

Running More Miles Doesn’t Translate To Faster Times.

Sure, some people may get faster as they add more mileage to their runs every week and month, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will also become faster runners compared to other people who have trained less than them – or even less than half as much.

Running is one of the best ways for humans to stay in shape, but it’s not the only way. We can also improve our speed by adding strength training into our workout routine – this helps prevent injuries, too, since we use muscles differently during these workouts.

Is strength training the answer then? 

Train to Run Fast
Train to Run Fast Gym2

The Ugly Side of Running

Let’s first discover what happens to runners who run but don’t strength train. 

  • If a runner starts adding mileage too quickly without building up their base first, then injury becomes inevitable at some point down the road due to lack of muscle strength and conditioning needed for each step forward taken; 
  • Overuse injuries caused by repetitive motions such as pounding pavement day after day, year after year, with little variation from one workout session until another;
  • This can lead to burnout over time, while underuse injuries occur when certain parts of our body aren’t being worked out regularly enough, causing muscle imbalances that form between opposing muscle groups such as hamstrings not being strong enough compared to quadriceps;
  • This leads us to mental fatigue, where motivation levels start dwindling with nothing left inside us after giving everything else away, trying desperately hard.

It doesn’t have to go down that scenario, though!

Running Is Only Part Of The Equation – Strength Training Is The Other Part

Training to be at our best from a cardio perspective is only half the battle; we need to be physically strong and durable to combat the long hours on our feet.

For example, if your goal is to run a marathon and you can’t run more than 3 miles without experiencing pain in your legs or back, it would make sense to invest more time strengthening those muscles.

Here’s how strength training helps you run faster:

  • Increased strength. Strength training increases muscle mass, making it easier to recruit those muscles during running. Increased muscle recruitment means fewer wasted movements during the swing phase of running, which allows you to generate more power with less effort on every stride. This will help improve your stride rate (stride frequency) and stride length.


  • It helps increase your VO2 max, which is a measurement of how much oxygen can be used by your body during physical activity. Your VO2 max is one of the best indicators of a person’s cardiovascular fitness level and ability to perform endurance activities like running.


  • By increasing your VO2 max through weightlifting, you’ll be able to run longer distances without getting tired as quickly as you would without doing strength training. This will allow you to reach higher speeds before tiring out, ultimately improving your race day performance!


  • Improved running economy. Running economy measures how efficiently you use energy when you run at a given speed. Strength training can help improve your running economy by increasing the endurance of your muscles and improving muscle recruitment patterns so that you can use less energy during each stride. This will help you run faster with less effort, making your runs more sustainable over longer distances and higher intensities than they would be otherwise
Train to Run Fast Running 1
Train to Run Fast Gym


So, should runners do strength training? The short answer – is yes!

Strength training helps runners in three ways:

1. It builds a stronger base of support.

2. It increases your ability to use your power efficiently.

3. It improves your body’s ability to adapt and recover faster from training and racing stress, which allows you to train harder and race faster.

A big part of running is cardio endurance (zone 2 and 3 training), but we need to be adaptable to different conditions, such as hills, trails, mountains and off-road.

Improving our strength and power will allow us to better tackle various conditions and requirements laced on the body!

Thank you for reading

Daniel Coughlan 
Team OnVenture

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