We all -should- know that runners should cross train with resistance.
Go to any local race and you'll see the telltale signs of -just- running: kyphotic posture, short and tight gait pattern, and stories of what aches(knees, hips, back, ankles, etc).
Sure, there are some with great genetics who can get away with only running and remain pain fee and quite upright. However, we don't get to pick our parents, so I'm going to assume that you, beloved readers, are not among those people.
It's okay, I'm not either. I did, however become a pretty good runner in my early thirties, after being one of the slowest guys in PE growing up, and getting nervous about my two mile timed run while serving in the US Army.
When I rediscovered running on my own terms, I set personal bests ranging from sub-5 minute miles to sub-3 hour marathons to a sub-20 hour 100 mile enroute to 115.5 for 24hrs.
I attribute that to my training. Getting faster and more efficient made running more fun. Not getting hurt only added to the joy.
Now, I could literally write a book about my training philosophy as it pertains to supporting long distance running. (Maybe I will. There's much to be said about posture, rotation, anti rotation, gait training, rhythm, timing, coordination, bla bla bla, but I digress.)
Today, I'm going to stick to the one thing I rarely see in the recreational runner's training log, and hopefully get some of you to add just one exercise to your toolbag.
That one thing: Strength, power, and stability, driven from the ground up.
When would you need that while running?
(That's not a serious question, folks.)
One exercise: Trap Bar Deadlift
The trap bar deadlift is a great exercise to load the hip hinge(running is a shallow hinge) with a lot of weight and really build some strength. The top part of the exercise is a great way to load the body as it achieves perfect posture.
You go from point a(hinge) to point b(standing with perfect posture) as quickly and powerfully as possible.
Forget running, we should all be doing some kind of deadlift variation.
So, why the trap bar variant for runners?
1. You don't need to get as low as a conventional deadlift. Runners are notoriously tight, and the conventional deadlift is a technical lift. Your training should have mobility drills that cover your running-specific deficiencies. A program should be as simple as possible. For that reason, the conventional deadlift is overkill for a distance runner.
2. The positioning of the weight is centered with your structure when using a trap bar. In the conventional deadlift, the weight is in front of you. Being able to keep your bones stacked with the weight is going to be easier on your back, which takes plenty of impact while you're out running around.
3. The placement of the weight also allows the trap bar deadlift to fall somewhere in between a truly hip dominant movement and a squatty movement. You're not a powerlifter; you're a runner. It's okay to use an implement that takes a lot of technique out and blurrs the lines between movements a bit. You'll still get stronger, I promise.
4. Grip. This may be a minor one, but it's worth noting. If you're anything like me, you've found yourself carrying things like water bottles, phones, and keys for very long distances. Having a strong grip can't hurt. This applies to conventional deadlifting as well.
5. This, again, applies to the conventional deadlift as well. The deadlift basically works EVERYTHING. Therefore, I think it's fair to say that it's an efficient exercise to include in a training program, especially for someone who might be covering over 100 miles in a week(or day, for the truly crazed among us). A lot of a runner's cross training is single leg work, rotation, lateral movement, mobility, balance and posture. There isn't a lot of time for absolute strength, so let's make it count.
If you're not using trap bar deadlifts in your training yet, I hope you'll give them a try. You want heavy on these. Think 2-5 for your working sets. A fun workout is to superset them with sprints.
Let me know if you have any questions or want me to get into other aspects of cross training. Like I said, I could write a book on it, so this could be a great place to start putting the thoughts together.