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Why Strength Matters for Running

Last week I was invited out to DCU (Dublin City University) to partake in a study they are carrying out on running injuries.

This is a subject that is very interesting to me personally. In Wild Geese I do a lot of work in helping athletes and fitness enthusiasts rehab their injuries.

And a good number of my crew, especially my Lunchtime crew, are keen triathletes, a few are dedicated runners.

And I’m no stranger to running myself.

We all know that high fives from kids along a route are like power ups for a runner

Being in the room with the two researchers both physio’s and keen runners themselves, was a great experience. I was strapped up with around 30 motion training jobbies and 20 accelerometers and aksed to perform several jumps, landings, plyometric drills, and of course running. This was all finished up with a few strength tests using a dynamometer for the major running muscles.

And the conversation flowed, I was interested in their research, they were interested in my experience working with runners.

Between the three of us, we all had very similar observations from our experience of runners.

Many, not all, are very physically weak.

Eliud Kipchoge who just set a new world record marathon time with an unbelievable 2hrs, 1 Min and 39 seconds! He is NOT weak!

By weak, I’m not talking about muscle size, or weight room strength. I mean the strength to land a single leg depth jump from a 30cm box.

That is unbelievable speed!

A drop jump is simply dropping off a box. A single leg drop jump means landing on one leg with full control.

Not me! Image stolen from but its the same set up from the day

This obviously requires a minimal level of strength, joint mechanics and proprioception.

Yet many test participants struggled to stabilise their landing signifying a lack of muscular strength, poor joint mechanics or simply a lack of proprioception or body awareness.

And that’s from one 30cm drop.

Which is why I’m looking forwards to seeing the findings of the study.

I am convinced that they will find a strong correlation between the strength of the runner and their injury risk. Less strength, higher risk.

Is this my bias as a gym coach?


Have I helped many improve their running times simply by increasing strength? Yes. Have I helped them by cleaning up joint mechanics and improving proprioception? Damn right.

What’s the take away from this post?

Simple, even if you have zero interest in the gym and want nothing more than to just run, you must do at least some strength work. Bulgarian Split Squats and Kettlebell Swings would be my first suggestions.

Why is this a good idea?

According to, force plate readings show impacts of an average of 1.5 to 3 times the runners bodyweight hitting the ground.


Over how many miles?

Is it any wonder studies have reported statistics of up to 43% of runners getting injured with the knee being the most common site of injury.

Strength matters. Bio mechanics matter.

I can help you.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Clive Mulvey (@clivemulvey) on Aug 11, 2018 at 4:34am PDT

(I’m a coach, not a physiotherapist, even though injury management and rehab are my specialty.)

Just fill in this form and I’ll get back to you within 48 hours to talk about how we can work together:

And just in case that Google Form doesn’t load, you can get to it here (opens in new window):

Regards Dave Hedges

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