Strength for Runners


 As many of you know, I am a post collegiate distance runner and personal trainer. Also, NO my clients do not do what I do or do Run training(unless requested) if that is their focus.

But- for the purpose of this post, I would like to direct my focus to my specialty, my passion, rightfully fellow running pals/teammates/ run nerds, what have you.

Following the recent trend in fitness that claims “Strong Not Skinny” is the way to grow..;) (Fit Pun there);  I would like to agree with that statement and encourage anyone reading this, especially RUNNERS to implement some kind of strength training into your weekly schedule.

I know that “lifting weights” has formerly been thought of as insignificant to distance run training in the past and many younger/less experienced runners tend to shy away from adding this tool to their training. Most runners actually don’t even think about it at all because they simply don’t want to take the time to do anything but run or they just don’t know a solid routine or how to properly do strength training.

To begin let’s just touch on some of the benefits of strength training in general(to even be considered a healthy, functioning individual:

  • To be considered healthy, American Heart Association recommends 2-3 days a week of strength training
  • No brainer– helps you accomplish daily tasks: like getting up off the toilet with ease or out of your office chair at work without issue, being able to lift normal objects by yourself, being able to perform all daily tasks by yourself and not being weak or having muscular atrophy because you neglect your muscles!!
  • Increases BONE DENSITY- our bones weaken and brittle as we age. It’s SO important to control this bone loss process and be STRONG at every age
  • It helps support muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments/all connective tissues that work together to give you daily strength and hold you together when you are tired in a run or workout.
  • Helps maintain weight/ or control weight loss/gain- strength training can add muscle weight depending on your training and diet but if you strength train as you age- you’ll be increasing your fat-free mass instead of storing FAT.
  • INJURY PREVENTION- While increasing bone density which helps prevent stress fractures and other common running injuries; being on a solid strength plan with your run plan will make your body overall stronger and more able to meet the increasing mileage demands or explosive workouts. Strong muscles in tact support sore bodies and hold you up as you fatigue late in a race or long run. Your muscle recruitment will work much more efficiently the fitter and stronger you become.
  • Improves blood flow throughout the body to the large muscle your quads, hammies, glutes..basically everything you need when running..cough* cough*
  • Improves resting heart rate, metabolism, manages stress level, creates “curves” hypertrophy, nice looking shape to the body instead of looking like a potato..-..-

Let’s back up, what is strength training?

Strength training is a number of different exercises imposed on the body that includes resistance training and places contractions on the muscles to build strength and shape to the muscles.

SO, Runners- I recommend that if you are NEW to strength training..start small. Do 2 days a week of strength training WITH your run training..this may mean you have a 2-a day every now and then(the weights part) unless you add it to a run double day; which I like to do sometimes. In that case- you have a 3- a day!! WOOOH baby!!

Start SLOWW! Meaning- Tuesday/Thursday or Wednesday/Friday or any two day split a week you will do strength(45min to an hour I recommend). Sure you can get a 30 min full body workout in but I wouldn’t make it a habit if you want to improve..with water breaks, warm up, rest intervals it’s very hard and annoying to get a quality strength sesh in 30 minutes. Especially with all the distractions at the gym, unless you have your own set up at home, you can squeeze a quick HITT strength circuit in for sure!!

Newbies- Start with only a few exercises for the large muscle groups and keep it simple with something like- 3×10 of every exercise you do. Take only 45sec-1min rest between sets and try to be quick but efficient with the reps. Focus on form and ROM(range of motion), sloppy won’t help you and will result in injury or improper muscular development.

Once you are consistently implementing a good strength routine into your training, I would encourage you to do it 3 days a week- so M/W/F or T/TH/SAT or something. For runners- I would reccomend FULL BODY each day because we are not body builders building muscle shape or focusing on specific day splits for the body. Our strength training must compliment and assist our training that we do outside and ultimately make us stronger, faster, more efficient runners.

SO, every day you’re in the gym..make it count. Put in the work. Take the time, do the little things, do dynamic flex stretches BEFORE(refer to my previous blog about dynamic vs static stretching if you want to learn more about that), foam roll soreness, stretch after, and do injury prevention drills when needed.

What are some helpful strength training exercises for Runners?(Why I am glad you asked!! I happen to know a quite knowledgeable runner/personal trainer who is oozing with helpful hints! and let’s be real- the only reason you’ve opened this mini novel):

Drum Roll Please…


  • Deadlifts w/ barbell,Dumbell,kettle bell, or body bar
  • Lunges w/ DB or bar
  • Good mornings
  • SQUATS/ Squat Jumps
  • Lateral Leg Lifts
  • Bridges
  • Donkey kicks, fire hydrants, Prone straight leg raises
  • Calf pumps/ machine or standing
  • leg press, hamstring curl
  • balanced hip drop(off steps)
  • TRX!!!(I’ll get into this more in a future post about TRX strength training since I am now teaching this class as well!)


  • Standing or seated shoulder press w/ medball/kettle bell/ barbell/body bar/machine
  • Inverted Push ups/push up on bench/ bosu ball push ups/ One leg-push up
  • bicep curl w/ elastic band/body bar/DB, weight plate, body bar, small child..ect.
  • Overhead triceps extention w/ cable, DB, or Kickbacks
  • Lateral raise to deltoid raise w/ machine or DB
  • Fly/Reverse Fly w/ machines or DB
  • DIPS
  • High pulls/raises w/ kettle bell, DB, Bar
  • Front raise & hold w/ DB
  • TRX!!!!!


  • I hate basic crunches. There I said it. Be creative and also protect your spine..
  • stability ball roll outs/jacknifes-single/double leg
  • bridges/hip ups -single leg/double
  • side lying hip ups
  • clams
  • external oblique rotation w/ med ball or resistance band
  • med ball throws
  • russian twist
  • PLANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • TRX!!!!
  • Leg lifts to in & outs
  • Scissors/ flutter kicks
  • suspended abs/leg lifts/scrunches on machine

These are only a few of the countless number and combinations of strength exercises aimed to strengthen and support your run training. If you’re unsure of what to do first follow this format:

  1. cardio warm up 5-10 min (elliptical/arc/bike)
  2. Dynamic flexibility stretches and needed drills before strength routine
  3. Strength routine-45min-hour(30min if presses for time). Depending on week(mileage, race week? tired body?) listen to your BODY.
  4. break it up into 3×12 or 3×10 for beginners.  I typically do 4×12 of whatever I am doing that day an sometimes switch up my routine to a HIIT circuit with minutes and 2-3 times through a strength circuit of 8-12 different exercises
  5. Focus on doing only a few exercises from each main muscle group: chest, shoulders, back, arms, legs, glutes, core and you’ll be fine.
  6. COOL DOWN. at least 5 minutes and then STRETCH and foam roll. This prevents blood pooling and helps speed up recovery and ease sore muscles. DO IT.

You can certainly split your strength plan into different muscle groups each day and focus on different days, styles, routines for whatever you want. Everyone is different and it may take playing with this a bit to find what works best for you. Also, race weeks and tapering I only do 1-2 days of strength work to ensure I am ready to roll on race day!! I also do core at least 4 days a week now aside from strength at the gym. This is just a basic outline of what your strength work should look similar to and help guide you on what exercises to focus on to improve yourself as a strong runner!

I hope this post has helped a little and I know I didn’t cover absolutely EVERYTHING. But if you are looking for a more in depth look at a runner’s strength plan or want to talk about the way I write and carry out my plans, email me or message me!!! 🙂 I always love giving tips and helping anyone with fitness however I can.

The main takeaway today is- balance, consistency, and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. And have FUNNNN<3






A riot is an unrestrained outbreak of passion for Jesus.

How many of us can truthfully say that our lives are completely and openly in riot for Jesus with what we do, where we go, how we approach people right now? What does that mean?
 I’m not saying you have to sell everything you own, go on a year long missions trip or only work in ministry. But maybe you do have to take some drastic measures if that’s what changes your heart to serve and pour life into others. 
I don’t. But it starts at your heart. Your purpose and the worlds for you will always be conflicting because you weren’t made to be of the world or to serve it. That void cannot be filled by people, things, money, success..ect. Believe me, it doesn’t. 
 You were uniquely made by God, for Him, to serve him, and to serve other people to bring them closer to Jesus; through your love, with your specific gifts and where you are at right now.
You don’t have to do anything “crazy” but most people won’t understand what you’re doing or why if they do not share the same heart filled with Christ that’s in RIOT for Him. 

For example- I got so internally salty and frustrated with a friend this week during a normal conversation because I felt like they really didn’t understand me or my heart.

 I’m a personal trainer at the YMCA. I chose that job now.

 No I don’t make all the money in the world and frankly most trainers don’t choose this profession for money. I genuinely feel like God equipped me with fitness as a spiritual gift to use for His kingdom. 

I’m using my athlete platform and fitness and communications and encouragement skills to do the best I can to lift up everyone there and to try and show them Jesus anyway I know how. 
That’s the raw, uncut truth from my heart and I take it seriously. I don’t say this for an “aww that’s so nice”, “what a sweet person”, that’s not my heart’s goal here.  

I get hurt when other people toss my purpose around as silly, insignificant or like it’s not enough. But to them it’s just what I “do”. I realized in my head during a convo with this friend that they honestly probably had no idea those thoughts were on my heart and over analyzing in my head. Most people WON’T and that is OK. Don’t get frustrated or hurt(internal monologue here).

Just keep being a light and a blessing and don’t get discouraged!! Live your purpose because that’s why you’re equipped with what you have where you’re at now! It took me a while to fully accept and embrace that thought too. That I needed to stop doing  things for other people’s approval or even my own because that’s not what this is about. It doesn’t matter but living for OTHERS does the most.

I remembered how many times Jesus felt let down by people in the bible and that he was often misunderstood on Earth. That made me feel better..whenever the world doesn’t approve..most of the time my Father in heaven is proud of me.
Ever since I ditched my glittery, promising broadcast career after college 2 years ago for “running” to focus on that for a few years and try to qualify for bigger races while being a personal trainer..something has always bothered me to the core. 

First of all, that answer I just said^^ that one’s for the world. 
That’s what I tell them to appease everyone and it’s socially acceptable but without a doubt- no matter’s never enough. “Oh that’s a good gig for now”, “you’ll get back into a real career and climb up and make more money in a year or two right?”, “don’t you want to make more money doing this?” 
I am telling you again, no matter what you do it will Never be enough for them. No matter where you’re at now, what you do or say, you’ll never be fully content or at par with the speed or demands of the world because you are in Christ. It will Never be as “cool” either. But His plan for you is much different and much greater and it won’t let you down.

But lately I’ve felt convicted of that, like why should I have to..not necessarily “lie” to the world about why I do life the way I do, but I’m not letting them in on the whole truth. Why? Because I’m afraid they will reject me? Judge me? Disapprove? Jesus said that would happen and it’s okay!

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. (‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭11-12‬ MSG)

I’m really glad I’ve made the transition I’m in currently. This isn’t bashing 9-5 jobs or saying that I have some Devine purpose to save the world, that would be a heart of pride. I know I’m far from perfect but I’m extremely happy and humbled to know that the Man who chose to die for me chose me for the job I’m at here in Jacksonville right now and that he has a bigger purpose than me, than my emotions, fears,Mistakes, or what others around me say or expect from me. 
I know my heart is focused on what’s really important and what all of our purpose is- to use whatever gift, place, people you’re given now and to be a light there, to really have a heart completely open and on fire for showing people Jesus and letting them see what He’s done for you.
Again, I know I’m not perfect but I am baffled and grateful Christ has planted an increasing longing to serve the community he’s placed me in now and not be so consumed by what I am not or don’t have. 

 I’ve gotten a bit frustrated the last week or so though if I’m being completely real with y’all- sometimes my competitive pride does rule my thoughts until my Holy Spirit speaks in me and reminds me who I am. 

I’ve stayed focused on what other people say or give their two cents on what I’m doing so much so that I’ve let it bother me when I should be focused on pressing forward what I’ve already began here in my new life in Jax. 
I’ve started attending celebration church here and go to the young adult group- Sub30 which is AMAZING by the way!!! We kick butt at beach volley ball too and worship is off the chain. 

This week has been “Riot Takeover Week”, which inspired this blog title. Seeing my generation and the ones to come with such authentic, raw worship and hunger for the Lord and his presence is awe inspiring to me..I love it and I want to be a part of this. I really see myself being planted here and leading the next generation in the future.
 Being in a Riot is the most amazing thing you can do with your life now. When you finally let go of the daily mask, whatever is holding you back from chasing Him with your whole heart, other issues seem so small and you gain clarity on what you should say, who you should pour into and you find strength because it’s not your own. You ALSO start to abandon things that used to occupy your attention and time. They aren’t the same focus as your purpose so they don’t matter. 

I seriously pray that it would be my mission for everyone I know or encounter to know the freedom in Jesus and feel his love and abandon whatever thing is in his place that’s not worthy and can’t fill what they’re chasing.

One LAST thing, basically summarizing this- all of our purpose is the same its just given to us differently, at different times, and we’re given different methods of accomplishing it but ALL equally important! This it here–

“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭28‬:‭18-20‬ MSG)

That’s where I’m at now. I’m hungry and I’m ready, and I’m not stopping! I took some notes from yesterday’s service at Celebration Church-(that are relevant to this “Riot” topic and you might see some themes I touched on in my list above.)

God is on the move- generational (Riot takeover week)

-Genesis 5(God is a generational God)- every name has a meaning 
“You want to experience a move of God but we aren’t willing to move with God” 

God wants people that are True & move for his calling

-you just have to be willing(John 17:16), not have it all together 
Your faithfulness determines the next generation of fruitfulness

*We’re all about Jesus 

*We’re passionate(with a purpose)

(So many people have the form but not the function) filled W/ hot air not the Holy Spirit

-be genuinely filled with his spirit 

*we’re authentic(we offer real relationships) we will never out-fun the world but authentic love, fun won’t be there in the end/ when your lonely, going thru a storm 

* we’re relevant-whatever we need to do to reach people! We care!

*we are together because we will reach this generation together not alone. It’s so important to have people around you to speak into your life, and pouring into younger ones 
-Invest into generations!! Be a leader for them, commit to being a worker and serve them

-a movement requires work, prayer, faith and for you to move