Strength For Runners By Emma Kirk-Odunubi

Sports scientist, gait analyst, running footwear expert and WIT Coach Emma Kirk Odununi is no rookie when it comes to mileage. With many races under her belt and a level 4 Strength and Conditioning qualification, she’s here to shed some light on why you shouldn’t neglect resistance training, in the lead up to a big race.

“To run faster I just need more miles, the pros run 100mile weeks and get faster so I should too” 

This statement I have heard and has echoed through runs and run clubs I have been part of. News flash guys and girls it’s not true- in part. Of course to get stronger on the road you have to run, but the main area you building that strength is in the gym.  

As a strength & conditioning coach, I have programmed and worked with many runners who come to me saying they keep getting injured during training cycles. Injury and niggles are to some, seen as just part of running. But why not bulletproof your body in the gym to negate the affects of pounding the road? Having 2 gym sessions alongside your work on the road is doable and essential!

There are some key areas of focus I always focus on for runners:

- Unilateral work (single leg work)

- Core stability work (this includes abs of course but vitally, mid and lower back as well as glutes)

- Power production work (this may be in the form of plyometric such as skipping, box jumps or power cleans with the barbell)

These three areas are non negotiable for runners. Firstly when we run, at any one time we are on one leg at a time and stabilising our body on it too. Therefore being strong on one leg is paramount.

Core work especially the back it vital too. When doing long race such as marathons/ultra marathons losing core strength can cause running form to dwindle and lead to injuries. So the stronger you are with your core the better running posture you’ll have.

 Lastly, POWER! Did you know some of the best long distance runners, have power cleans and hang cleans in their programmes as a standard? Power production is essential for the mechanics of running especially the triple extension at hip/knee & ankle. 

For all of these areas you can benefit from our classes at WIT from Olympic weightlifting to improve your power, the daily Metcon classes to build strength with squats and deadlifts plus the accessory work too in class for your unilateral strength.

If you want to train with me or get in touch find me on Instagram @emmakirkyo or my website to find out more about where I coach.

Stay strong and safe team, Emma x