The Plan: 45 Minutes Strength
The Actual: 45 Minutes of Squats, planks/side planks, Jillian Michaels’ plank raise (I knew I disliked her for a reason), TRX hell i.e. tucks, rows and one-legged squats, one-legged bicep curls, one-legged bridges and did I mention squats?!?! (goblet squats to be exact)
It is almost exactly a year ago that I started a consistent strength regimen and to say it’s had “an impact” would be the understatement of the century. When we start a “running plan” it’s totally normal, and often the case, that we think it’s just about running. Oh my friends – what a mistake you are making if this is the path you are taking!
This past winter, about 6 months into my two days a week with the wonderful Susan, I did a 10 mile race, in February, IN MAINE (if you missed it on the news it was F!$#&*^^$% cold in Maine this winter), with a training “plan” that consisted of about 2, maybe 3 if I was lucky, days of running with a weekly total of just 12-15 miles, and I shaved FIVE MINUTES off my time from last year’s race. I will pause for you to do the math….oh I don’t have time for that….that’s THIRTY SECONDS off my 2014 pace..withOUT any semblance of speed work and barely running! What WHAT?!?!?!?!
Not only did I feel great throughout the race but I wasn’t fried at the end. Some of you are probably thinking, “You could have ran harder!” and you may be right but regardless I know I had a great race because of that strength training. It also lead me to the logical conclusion that if I really want to break 4 hours, getting down to business with strength is going to be critical – not a “nice to have”, or “when I have time”, but CRITICAL!
Truthfully, I love strength training! (Remember that masochist comment from two days ago.) I’ve always responded well to someone else pushing my limits. That being said, I DESPISE having to develop a strength plan for myself and am quickly bored by the same routine. That’s where Ms. Susan comes in. She is sneaky…veeeeery sneaky…slowly increasing reps, or the time duration of circuits. She is also great about changing up the workout EVERY time. We never do the same circuit two sessions in a row. Do not think for a minute, however, I don’t curse Susan like the truck driver I want to be at a volume that her family (all sleeping upstairs) hate me for because I most certainly do – CONSISTENTLY! We have a lovely relationship, I curse and threaten to fire her, she laughs and silently adds 10 seconds to the plank we’re holding. It works.
Personal sessions with a trainer aren’t for everyone, or simply may not be financially possible, but that doesn’t mean you have an out to skip strength workouts. There are gyms popping up everywhere and some will let you pay for just classes so you can avoid the “dreadmill” and cut the cost. Yoga or Pilates are also great ways to get in your strength. Both these options are also a good fit for those of you that like a more social environment. If you’re more self disciplined than I and perhaps on a tighter budget, you could also invest in 3 or 4 “health” magazines this week – Shape, Health, Runners World, etc. – and flip to the couple pages of a sample workout (they always have them). Rip them out, cut out the boxes around each move, lay them out on the floor, and build yourself at least three circuits. Each circuit should consist of three moves. Try to keep them balanced i.e. don’t put three moves that work your shoulders in the same circuit. For your next workout, choose three circuits. Do each circuit twice before moving to the next. Move through each circuit fast enough that you’re getting your heart rate up and take a QUICK water break before moving to the next. This should get you about a 40 minute workout leaving you 5 minutes for stretching. We’ll focus more on stretching in a future post so for now I will leave you with – DON’T SKIP STRETCHING!!! These may be the 5 most important minutes of your day. DON’T ROLL YOUR EYES AT ME!!! Just DO it!
Last but not least, if you have an iPad, Tablet or smart TV, check out FitnessBlender on YouTube. They are awesome!!! There are workouts for every level and amount of time. I have officially eliminated all your excuses!!!
I have noticed that some articles will recommend 4-5 days of strength but if you are training and you’ve got some intervals and tempo runs mixed in there, guidance in this instance is more like 1-2 sessions per week so your body has time to recover and give 100% during your other running workouts.
To form a new habit you need to like it. Sounds like a no brainer but we sometimes forget this. We think we can simply will ourselves to change but the reality is, if you don’t find a way to incorporate strength in a way you like, you’ll probably stick with it for 3 sessions, find 10 excuses that prevent you from session 4 and then you’re done. So figure out which method will work for you and then make it happen! Running isn’t just about running. Incorporating strength into your plan is imperative for whatever your goal is let it be injury prevention, speed, weight loss, overall health, or the ability to look at your 4-year old and say, “Welcome to the Gun Show!” without him laughing at you.
Get it done! AND DON’T FORGET TO STRETCH!