I cannot believe that I leave for Grandma’s Marathon TOMORROW! I have some fun marathon prep posts coming on Thursday and Friday (including an update on my goals for race day!), so come back and check them out.
One of the things that I didn’t do for years (until the last two years or so, actually) was do any type of exercising outside of running. I made excuses, basically that I felt that running took up way more than enough of my time and usually, when I was done with a run, I didn’t have the energy to get in some strength training. It is possible to balance strength training and running, AND you will see benefits from being able to do that.
First, what is strength training?
Well, the technical definition is really boring and not any fun… so in my own words, I view strength training as any workout that you can do — with resistance, weights or your own body weight — that helps to build your muscles.
I used to think that meant you had to go hit the bench and lift the bar —> no. You can easily do a lot of great body-weight exercises to build up your muscles — squats, lunges, planks, push ups, mountain climbers, I could go on forever.
Why is it important to runners?
When we run, we build up our leg muscles and don’t really focus much on other areas of our bodies. Each group of muscles has an important job to make us better, faster runners.
Strong arms = help to keep us moving forward and propel our legs forward.
Strong core = helps us keep good form and prevents your back from hurting from all the pounding.
Strong hips = keeps your legs moving and can help prevent overuse and other injuries.
How can you balance strength training and running?
When you are running tons and tons of miles a week, it seems like you can’t find the extra time (or energy) to have a strength training AND running program. But, it can be done.
For one, you don’t need to go and spend hours at the gym. Often times, you can do a quick circuit that will work your muscles enough to build strength and make a difference in your running.
Second, you need to build your strength training program similar to how you do your running plan. You want to make sure that you aren’t overloading your body on hard days, and instead, focusing on your runs on those days that are easier for you. I usually aim for OTF on Sundays (rest day for running) and Wednesday (easy day for running). If I do have to reschedule (which has been the case for the past few weeks), I look to put it on a day when I have a rest day or easy day for running.
Last time when I trained for Santa Rosa Marathon, I did not do this… and my theory is that I showed up to race day exhausted. I was running 12, 13 or 14 miles some days in the morning and going to OTF that afternoon, which, while I never got injured, wasn’t giving my body the break that it needed.
What are some body weight exercises you can do?
There are a TON of body weight exercises that you can do. I love Body Rock –> it’s an online workout program that offers a lot of free videos and HIIT workouts that focus on building your strength. 90% of the workouts that they do are body-weight based, which makes it easy to do right when you are at home. I love that their videos are also about 12-minutes long. I used to do these quite a bit before I started doing OTF.
Here are some of my favorites:
This picture is one of the reasons why I love doing planks so much. The red indicates the muscles that you work when you do a plank. Usually these are known for building your abs, but they can help other muscle groups too. Most recently I did a THREE MINUTE plank in OTF and was sore for a few days. But it makes you feel so good when you can push through the pain and hold it. 🙂
A few years ago, my sister challenged me to a push up competition (we do weird stuff like that, there’s always an arm wrestling competition when I go home too) and I could only do five. FIVE!
The best part of push ups is that there are a ton of variations that you can do. You can go on your knees until you build up strength; you can put your hands together with your thumbs and forefingers forming a triangle for something a little harder.
Oh, burpees. The exercise where you feel like death as you workout and afterwards, like Superman. Remember when I did the burpee challenge a few years ago? This is a fun, easy way to keep yourself accountable –> basically, you start with 1 burpee on day 1, 2 burpees on day 2, 3 burpees on day 3 and so on… until you hit 30 days (and 30 burpees).
I used to do squats while I brushed my teeth, and I could even tell a difference from just adding 30 or so to my day. Just like push ups, I love how you can vary squats so that they still challenge you no matter your fitness level. Air squats (where you add a jump) are my current favorites, even though I often see spots after a few rounds. 😉
How do you stay motivated to stick with strength training AND running?
This has always been my struggle. I love running and it’s what I gravitate to because it’s what I know and what I enjoy doing… so it’s easy to put strength training on the table. That being said, you need to find a way to stay motivated for what works for you. For me? It’s been OTF. It keeps me accountable (I hate knowing that if I miss a class I have to pay a $10 cancel fee) and it keeps me motivated.
My friend Steph and I also keep each other motivated by texting each other every day about our workouts. It makes such a difference when you bring someone else into your fitness world, because it’s much harder to make an excuse sound legit to someone else.
What do you like better —> strength training or running?
How do you stay motivated to strength train?
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