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Woes of strength training

Posted Oct 05 2011 2:12pm

Strength training is something that I’ve really struggled with throughout marathon training because (and I know that some of my runner friends  don’t feel this way) I like strength-training. It’s probably kind of petty but I like seeing definition, specifically in my arms. But strength-training and heavy running don’t seem to like me when I pair them up.

So I started doing some research (because apparently now that I research all day for work, I spend all my free time researching running and health-related things). As I’m sure you can guess, there are TONS of articles out there on strength training, marathon training, strength and marathon training together… you get the point.

You see, I’ve kind of been in a rut with strength training anyway. I go through phases with the gym – sometimes I want to do every single workout at the gym (read: BODYPUMP , trying Fight Fit , etc), sometimes I only want to do some of them there, and sometimes the thought of going to the gym makes me die a little bit inside. Right now I’m going through the whole avoiding the gym like the plague thing which makes for a whole lot of at-home workouts or just skipping strength-training all together. I’ve been pretty open about my love for workout DVDs , but right now I’m pretty bored with the ones that I have and I don’t feel like buying any new ones. The solution? At-home circuit training seems like a good one. But how do you pick what to do?

I had a few requirements:

1. Not a lot of equipment: I have a treadmill and free weights and a  jump rope and I’m not really interested in buying anything else right now, I have a wardrobe I need to invest in (naturally) and a house that needs fall decorations (this, obviously, is important)

2. Doesn’t require too much space: as in, I should be able to do it in the living room

3. Doesn’t take forever: I get bored. Easily. I need to be able to go quickly and efficiently.

4. Not too leg intensive, but not totally ignoring them either: I don’t want to be running on legs that are so fatigued they don’t want to run… which is one reason I haven’t been going to BODYPUMP as of late. I know some people can go to pump and still run 6+ miles the next day, but my legs just don’t seem to want to do that.

I read a ton of articles. And this one seemed to stick out the most to me as something that I wanted to try.

If you don’t want to read it, I’ll highlight the parts that stuck out to me:

“There are at least three good reasons for distance runners to acquire a sizeable level of general strength in both the legs and the upper body. First, workloads of greater intensity can be managed more easily. Second, greater muscular strength decreases the risk of joint injury or overuse strain by minimizing connective tissue stress (bone, ligament, tendon, or cartilage) which plays a part in maintaining joint integrity. Third, a progressive resistance exercise program helps strengthen these connective tissues, making the entire support system more durable.”

“Studies show that with as little as ten weeks of weight training, 10K times decrease by an average of a little over one minute.”

And on and on and on. They talk about “in-season” training and how you can do 1-2 sets of 8-10 reps of strength-training during the racing season. I can do 2 sets of 10 reps. So I decided to give it a try. Here are the exercises:

Quadriceps, hamstrings, hips
Squats , Dead Lifts , and Lunges

Heel Raises

Shoulder Shrugs

Upper Back
Dumbbell Rows

Elevated Feet Push-ups


Triceps Kickbacks

Lower Back
Superman Exercise

Gluteals and hamstrings
Good Morning Lift

**I just linked to the first link that came up as I was googling each exercise which is why the links are so random if you’re wondering

I did 2 sets of this last night and was pretty happy with how it went. I was sweating by the end of it and my body was tired, but not worn out (read: BODYPUMP). So over the next few weeks I’m going to see if I think it’s helping me improve my running at all. The only thing that isn’t on here is abs, and I think I’m going to focus on abs on the days that I run.

You tell me: do you strength-train or avoid it? Why for either?

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