In our last blog, we discussed some of the top ways parents can help support their runner during XC season. This blog is focused on why encouraging strength training is important. There are simple at home exercises that can be done without equipment that will challenge the muscles that support our body weight when running. Our body has to withstand forces like ground reaction force and gravity during running; while these forces are part of our running lives, they can be dangerous if not controlled correctly. Ground reaction force is the force the ground gives back to us every time we land . . . the harder you land, the more force that has to be withstood. Research shows that force is about 2-3 times our body weight. Gravity is a propulsive force that, if used correctly, can help us go faster. But to run faster, your muscles have to be strong enough to maintain that speed. Strength training allows the muscles to do their job of absorbing that force and assist with propulsion but they need to be challenged to avoid fatigue.
Here is a video of some exercises that can be done outside of practice (either on non-running days or after practice). Ideally, we recommend strengthening 2-3 times per week but understand there are some weeks that this harder to do than others so manage as best you can.
Please let us know if you have any questions about the role of strength training or for other helpful tips.
Happy Strength Training!