5K Strength Training

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The best 5k training programs will include strength-training sessions. Strength-training sessions help improve running performance and decrease risk of injury. Runners want to gain muscle strength without gaining more weight and are able to with the proper strength-training exercise regimen.

Improved VO2 Max

In a 2000 article published in "Northwest Runner" magazine, Greg Crowther, a research scientist in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases within the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington, says that by adding a weighted vest to runners' normal training routine, athletes improved their VO2 max, which is the measure of how efficient the body uses oxygen. Individuals who have a higher VO2 max are able to run for longer distances at a faster pace. In order to improve VO2 max, strength training should include movements that mimic running and involve upper and lower body movements.

Lactate Threshold

As lactic acid begins to build up in the blood and muscles, performance levels begin to rapidly decline. According to Crowther, athletes who participated in strength training saw improvements in their lactate threshold and were able to run for longer distances before lactic acid began to accumulate. Runners should include explosive strength training in order to improve 5k performance and increase the ability to get rid of lactic acid.

Foot Strike Improvements

The lower body muscles and tendons act like springs during running by saving energy just before a foot strike and then releasing energy in order to push off the ground. Being able to push off the ground at faster speeds depends on the power of the lower body muscles, elasticity of the muscles and the ability of the nervous system to control the tendons. Crowther says performing explosive and coordinated movements develops the nervous system and muscle strength without adding muscle weight. Strength-training programs for runners should include exercises that promote faster, more coordinated movements.

Program Design

Strength-training programs should include high-intensity strength-training exercises that should be performed before running. Paavo Komi, director of the Neuromuscular Research Center at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, says that high-intensity strength training improves the ability of the nerves to control the muscles and increases the number of muscle fibers being used. Runners can benefit from strength training by performing exercises two times a week on nonconsecutive days. Example exercises include one leg hops, one leg squats or step ups using a high bench.