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Why is strength/resistance training important for trail runners?

Updated: Apr 23

"Performing strength exercises twice a week for 18 weeks had a significantly lower risk of running-related injuries"

So, you hear coaches and physios talk about the importance of strength training, but all you really want to do is run. You’ll find you miss out that strength session because you didn’t have time and instead squeeze in a run, because well, missing one strength session isn’t important right? Except one leads to two, and then before long you’ve dropped the strengthening all together.

Yes, we’ve all been there!

This short post is a whistle-stop explanation as to why strengthening is beneficial to us

as trail runners and why your strength session is one not to miss!

Trail running consists of unique variations of elevation, running surfaces and locations. Unfortunately, this inevitably leads the lower leg to be the most common region for acute and chronic injuries. Running on trails requires us to rapidly process variations in ground surface and make appropriate adjustments to maintain stability. Inadequate lower limb strength is one of the factors that has been shown to increase the risk of running-related injuries (Vincent, Brownstein and Vincent, (2022).

I often see tendinopathies as a running physiotherapist. One of the benefits of strength training that has been researched is the change in muscle-tendon interaction. Your tendons act as a ‘bridge’, connecting your muscles to your bones and joints. I want you to visualise your tendons like a spring – storing and releasing energy as you move. You want your tendon to have an optimal level of stiffness for effective elastic recoil. You’ll often hear me say, you need to load your exercises. That’s because your tendons adapt well to mechanical loading (strength/resistance training).

Unfortunately, studies looking at the benefits of strength training for runners have had mixed results, often due to the incorporation of other sports as well as running. However, a promising recent study has found recreational runners who performed strength exercises twice a week for 18 weeks had a significantly lower risk of running-related injuries.

If you are looking to upscale your strength sessions, or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email at

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