Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Strength Training for Runners

Strength training is straight up crazy.

When it comes to strength training, most people either don't do it at all, or when they do, they go totally and completely overboard and can't stay with it. Now don't get me wrong, extremo regimens like P90X are super effective--if you stick to them.

The truth is, strength training is super important to your health and fitness--it fights off osteoporosis, it plays a key role in everyday movements (lifting groceries, anyone?), and more muscle mass keeps the metabolism a whole lot higher. So guess what? It's gotta happen.

Fitness can be broken down into 3 parts: strength, flexibility, and endurance. In order to be truly fit, you need to be capable in all 3 area. As runners, we've got the endurance thing cornered, but the other 2? Not so much. Runners are infamous for not being able to do a push-up and not being able to touch their toes.

Just look at me as an example, I've been running regularly since 1994 and I've logged about 1,000 running miles every year for the last 5 years. My resting heart rate is less than 50 beats per minute. But my body fat? It doesn't fall into the fitness range. Why? Too many snacks and NOT ENOUGH STRENGTH TRAINING.

And just like all aspects of fitness, regular small doses of strength training is way better than going crazy with weight lifting for 4 days every 2 years.

In my opinion, there are a few strength exercises that are absolutely essential to everyone, runner or not. They're basic moves that can be done at home with no fancy equipment. In no particular order, they're:

This program helped me get from 0 push-ups to 20 standard push-ups in a month. 
I did a lot of push-ups in my office!

Seriously, did you know that the tricep is the biggest muscles in your upper arm?

Start with those. Run through the whole routine 3 times every week. Aim for 3 sets of each exercise, with 10-20 reps. And then, when you get the hang of that, you can go flip some tires with these these guys. That gym is right down the street from Kennebec Valley Coaching, and we share a couple clients. If you'd like to be able to pick up your house and move it around on its lot every month or so, call them.


  1. Amen! Great post, Amy. :) I teach power toning classes at the gym, so I'm a firm believer in the strength training along with everything else. I do an hour class twice a week, and that's it. You don't even have to do that much to see benefits... but you definitely don't need to do a lot more than that.

  2. I go to boot camp for this very reason. I hate doing it on my own, but with boot camp I hit a certain point and suddenly everything "clicks" and I feel like I have wheels - I can run and run and run. I love the results.

  3. I've got a good handle on the endurance and the flexibility... but strength? I'd rather not think about it. My head knows that strength training is important, but my body doesn't seem to want to do it. I have good intentions, but I struggle to do it on my own. If it weren't for bootcamp, I wouldn't get any strength training in!