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How to Injury-Proof Your Running with Lower Body Exercises When You're New to Strength Training

There's something INSANELY IMPORTANT that I need YOU to know.

And I see this happening in the gym all the time.

This is because I have a unique skill for picking out runners in a crowd.

(Although I will admit, the sneaky ones that are harder to find: the 50 year old + males.

Y'all just look like your chilling and having a great time, which you probably are. The race shirt is what finally gives it away.)

But the runners I do see:

Why are you still doing body weight lunges?

Why are you still doing bridges over there in the corner?

I am proud you're doing RDLs though....

The Problem: I KNOW you're CAPABLE of SO MUCH MORE!

And I realize, yes, these runners might have races coming up or they're doing a little recovery mobility work... I get it.

But you're running is DIRECTLY INFLUENCED by how heavy and how consistently you LIFT.

Because heres' the HARD TRUTH: strength training is your best bet to injury-proofing yourself.

And I understand: I've started right where you.

I've done 2 sets of 50reps of body lunges because a coach told me too.

(and it didn't fix my knee pain).

Sometimes you just need somewhere to start.

I want this blog post/ video/ guide to be injury-proofing guide if you're a runner whose knew or unsure of this whole lifting heavy narrative.

Maybe this tough-love strategy isn't for everyone, but it's because I know YOU are:

  • hard working

  • dedicated

  • running isn't a fad for you

  • you want to be the BEST runner YOU can be

  • and you're really, really over nagging aching injuries holding you back.

I can promise, even with just 3 lower body strength exercises, if you work these in a regular basis and actually lift heavy weight, you WILL start to FEEL a difference.

You'll feel stronger; hills will feel (marginally) easier; and you're body will start to feel better.

So lets hop in.

Injury-Proof Your Running by Strength Training


3 sets each // Heavy weights // 2-3x a week for 4 weeks

Bulgarian Split Squat with Rotation

  • 8 X heavy weight

RDL (with optional kickstand) with Internal Rotation Bias

  • 12 X weight

Squat with "power up" Overhead weight

  • 30 Reps X weight

You're a Runner and New to Strength Training: Your Guide

Bulgarian Split Squat with Rotation

  • I know you're sick of these if this is isn't your first visit to my little corner of the internet... but are you doing them??

  • THE SECRET: it's evil little rotation at the end. It makes the exercise just a tad more spicy with having to stay in that position longer and then moving into and controlling coming out of hip internal rotation (that rotation in towards the front leg).

  • This exercise not only targets your quads and glutes, but it places extra emphasis on deep glute muscles that are so important to endurance and good running (and avoiding injuries. It's well worth the extra few seconds. And it looks like running ;)

RDL (with optional kickstand) with Internal Rotation Bias

  • Yup, more sneaky deep glute muscle exercises.

  • THE KEY: Training your hamstrings as a runner is always a good idea. Leveling up your RDL-even better. With that slight added movement of twisting towards the outside of your planted foot, you encourage full elongation of your hamstrings and deep glute muscles.

  • What this does: works both deep glute muscles and hamstrings eccentrically, the hardest of kind of strength. It also trains them TOGETHER! Muscles are strong on their own, but when they understand how to work as teammates, that's how you avoid injuries. (and it looks like running ;) )

Squat with "power up" Overhead weight

  • This is a new one...but its cool ;)

  • WHY IT'S IMPORTANT: in case you're working out from home, this is another way to level up or progress your squat without needing a ton more weight. But more importantly, it begins to introduce you to power: moving a heavy weight over a distance very fast and with control. Your arms, core, and glutes are all involved here!

  • And while this exercise doesn't necessarily look like running, it's a great introduction to explosive-type exercises that will really take your running to the next level. They don't have to scary or complicated. They just need to work :)


Did you notice something in the reps and sets section?

I actually included for how many weeks you could incorporate and repeat these exercises!

A myth we should bust right here:

  • there is no need to "confuse" your muscles.

  • They either work or they don't work. (pretty sure yours do; that's why your here.)

It's through repetition that we get stronger.

And it's how we learn that we're actually lifting heavy.

My RACE READY runners had to learn this in their first month of the program.

For some of them, it was the first time they had tackled a specific strength training plan for runners that was structed with repeated exercises.

The purpose: PRACTICE. REPS.

With more reps, you learn what heavy feels like.

You don't always get it right the first few times through a circuit.

I want you to have a chance to RACE READY. explore that too; think of this as a preview of

And if you're interested, go ahead and sign up on the waitlist-just to get more information when the time is right!

Because I know you have it in you to Dare to Train Differently. ;)

Dare to Train Differently,

Marie Whitt, PT, DPT //

P.S. want more strength exercises for runners? I got you covered HERE!

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