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Strength training crucial in improving your running performance

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If you are serious about running and want to improve your running performance, do not neglect strength training.


That was the main takeaway from the annual ActiveSG Running Clinic on Friday where ActiveSG Athletics Club Principal Luis Cunha, along with other running coaches, including Steven Quek, Head Coach (Distance Running) and Melvin Tan, Head Coach (Sprints), debunked some common myths and dished out some tips to improve running efficiency. 

ActiveSG running clinic

Luis Cunha and Team Singapore athlete Dipna Lim Prasad in action during the ActiveSG Running Clinic at the Singapore Sports Hub. Photo: Sport Singapore


To many running enthusiasts, running is all you need to do to improve your speed. However, strength work is in fact one of the key factors that can actually benefit your running.

“Strength training has a specific role to improve your posture,” Cunha said.

“If you develop a good posture, you are able to run faster because you are able to run with less energy and more efficiency.

“Efficiency is a concept that is about technique, biomechanics and physiological parameters.

“The exercises that you can use to increase your strength are going to help you increase your efficiency.” 

ActiveSG running clinic

Beyond helping you run faster, strength training can also mitigate the risk of injuries. Photo: Sport Singapore

“At the same time, they can also help to decrease the rate of injuries. They cannot eliminate, but using strength exercise, you can have fewer injuries,” the three-time Olympian said.

When doing strength training, it may make sense to only train your legs since that is where most of the strain is felt. But Cunha said it is important to also include upper body exercises in your strength workout.

“Your arms have a certain specific role when you run, and your trunk is also important, mainly for your posture,” he said.

“With a good posture, you are able to run with less energy and you are able to use more air for more oxygen because your diaphragm is working properly and you are able to put more air in your lungs.” 

ActiveSG running clinic

Melvin Tan sharing tips during the ActiveSG Running Clinic. Photo: Sport Singapore


While some worry about the fact that strength training may bulk them up, causing less efficient running, that is not the case at all. It very much depends on the type of strength training you do.

Workouts involving light weights and a high number of repetitions will avoid bulking you up, and help you maintain a fit and strong body suitable for running.

“If you do strength training in a manner of endurance, not in maximal strength, you are not increasing your body weight,” he said.

“[They should carry] no load or very light loads. They have to do, instead of two, three or four repetitions, more repetitions. And more repetitions mean less load.”

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