Get Strong to Go Long
This is me, three years ago, when I gave up the miles for the muscle.
After focusing on running for the prior 14 years, I decided I wanted to see how far I could get in an online physique photo competition. The main focus of my workouts became weights, weights, and more weights. My running time diminished from miles to minutes of all-out sprints on my treadmill. Short, high intensity cardio that wouldn’t eat away at the precious muscle I’d built was the name of my game. I got strong, leaner than I’d ever been, and I won 1st place in my division.
Fast forward three years, and I’m focusing on the miles again instead of the muscle. Most of last year was spent training for a marathon, and while I continued to lift a couple times a week, it was a half-hearted attempt at best, and while I still have a pretty good pair of “guns”, I did lose some of my hard-earned strength. Little niggling aches and pains began to pop up, and I took it as my sign to try and regain some balance in my workouts.
Lately I’ve done some research on the importance of strength training for runners, and it reinforced what I’d been suspecting - to run long (and continue to do so injury-free) it’s important to get strong. Runners should lift heavy - we build our endurance through our runs, and need to build our strength by lifting heavy weights 2-3 times per week. Deadlifts, squats, pull ups, pushups, rows, overhead presses…these exercises train movements and not just muscles. Runners move, so it only makes sense to train your body to move strong.
It’s also important to do the strength training that focuses on those small muscles in the core that no one sees (I’m not talking 6-pack abs here either). This http://www.therapeuticassociates.com/sports-medicine/stability-routine/ is one of the best compilations of running stability exercises I’ve been able to find. Watch the short clips and learn to do them right.
I don’t plan to ever give up the miles again - I love running too much. However, I’m never going to give up my strength either. It’s going to help me keep running until I’m 150. Heavy weights twice a week, and stability training 3 times a week - that’s my plan to get strong so I can go long.