Why Strength Training is a MUST to becoming a Better Runner
As many of you know, I LOVE to run! My most recent running accomplishment was completing the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, TN, on April 27, 2013, in 4:00:53. Many of you followed along with my training journey as I documented each of my training runs, my successes, my failures, and my journey to finding the proper way to fuel my body for those grueling, long runs. One thing I didn’t share during my marathon training schedule was that I gained 7 lbs. I’ve shared this information with friends during casual conversation and their response is always the same, “How can you gain weight while putting in that many miles?” or “It must have been muscle!” I always giggle at the second statement, thinking that if I put on 7 lbs of muscle in 4 months, I would have been chiseled!
The fact is, I know why I gained the weight. I was taking in a lot of carbs to fuel my runs, and I was not strength training. Unfortunately, a few months before beginning our training program, I fell out of my strength training habits so once we started training for the marathon, I didn’t want to add anything new that would take away from my runs. At one point, I tried to start incorporating it again, but I didn’t stick with it. I wish I would have. Once I was done with the marathon, I started doing Insanity, which focuses on core and leg strength and have lost close to 5 lbs in less than two months. In a few weeks I will begin training for a half marathon coming up in September, and this time I will make sure to keep up my strength training program and try to make it more intense…that’s the key to having the body and the strength we all want. Its also the key component to getting faster! And who doesn’t want to set a PR in their next race??!!
Here’s an interesting thing to look for the next time you’re at the gym. Do you ever notice some people who hit the cardio machines every single time they’re there? They are there religiously, but the cardio machines are where it ends. They do their cardio and then leave. Have you ever noticed their bodies never seem to change or, in fact, some of them gain weight over the years? This is because their body goes into a different mode when they are constantly doing endurance training and not building muscle. Now, I’m not talking about our elite runners or VERY serious runners. Most of them have a very strict eating plan that would never allow them to gain weight. I’m talking about the average person who enjoys running, staying in shape, and running a few races every year. I came across this interesting article a few months ago – http://athlete.io/5343/why-women-should-not-run/ . Don’t take this the wrong way, I LOVE running and will run as long as my body allows, and I also will always encourage people to take up running. But I think this article does a good job of explaining why it is important to strength train as well, not just focus on cardio.
Here are some other reasons all runners should incorporate strength training into their training plans:
Get Faster – A heavy strength program for the lower body will produce the best results. However, if you are already training for a race, start with this Low Intensity Program and then start heavier after your scheduled race. I am a BeachBody Coach and many of the programs we carry, such as Insanity or P90X, would be ideal for your off season training.
Have more Left at the End of the Race – You will increase your fast muscle fibers which will help you get a better kick at the end when your muscles are fatigued. All that strength you have built will keep those legs moving faster.
Decrease Body Fat – Strength training will increase your metabolism thus making you lighter and faster. The only way to get that chiseled body you’ve been dreaming of is to build muscle!
Look Great! – This goes for women too! I talk to women that are afraid they will look masculine if they weight train too hard. This is impossible. With our body composition we can’t put on huge amounts of muscle mass without the help of supplements. Weight training like a man will make you look lean and hard, and more feminine. And did I mention it will make you faster 🙂
Prevent Injury – Enough said! No one wants all their hard work thrown down the drain from an unwanted injury!
I could go on and on with the reasons to strength train. This is as important to your running plan as running itself. If I would have strength trained during my marathon training plan, I strongly believe my time would have been about 10 minutes better (where I had planned on it being) because my legs would have had the strength, when they were fatigued, to cope with the monstrous hills of Nashville. Start strength training today! If you have any questions about a strength training plan that will work for you, please contact me by leaving a message below, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or messaging me through my Facebook Page. You can also visit my BeachBody website www.beachbodycoach.com/fitnfabfoody to find training dvd’s and equipment to help you get faster for that next race!