When it comes to running for me that is the easy part. But when it comes to cross training and srength training that is where I find the balance has to be made. I learned the hard way after a knee injury last year that strength training not only keeps you stronger but it can help you improve your speed. When your leg and over all body muscles are stronger you have more control over your movement and this wil help you no matter what distance you run.
I am living proof of this. I ran my first half marathon in 1:59 last year, February 2011. I then joined the gym shortly after that. You see the first year of my journey I did from home workouts and running outside and at the small fitness center in my condo complex. I figured it was time to join the gym when I wanted to get faster and fitter. And it worked.
I started taking different classes at the ymca and lifting heavier weights. I got into a crossfit class over the summer while I trained for a spartan race and started really falling in love with strength training. But what I also loved? My running improved. I took my 5K time from a 29:45 to a flat 21 minutes in that year. I also got my half marathon PR down to a 1:46. I also completed my first full marathon in 3:46. I know it took a lot of running to get me there but it also took a lot of strength training.
We were having a discussion on twitter a few days ago about a home routine for runners and we decided to share some tips. So here is an example of a strength routine I will do at home when I cannot get to the gym. Because like I said earlier, I do not let anything get in my way ;)
Squats, these are basic but so helpful to strengthen your quads. I will hold a 20 pound weight or plate to my chest and do 20 reps usually within a set of other things.
Lunges, again I started without a weight and then worked my way up. If it is close to a race (within 3 weeks) I will not do weighted ones
Planks - these have become instrumental to my workout. A strong core gives you a stronger posture and better form when running. And I truly believe every runner should incorporate core work weekly into their routine. I make it a point to do it 5 days a week even if only for 10 minutes. I will hold plank for 5 minutes strait now starting with 1 minute regular, then going to one side, then the other side, then on forearms and ending with 1 min regular plank.
Pushups- Military or assisted these are great. You can work your way up to doing sets of 20-25. I love doing pushups
Sit ups- I do these too, not crunches those are going half way up, I am not a fan of those. I like the full up sit ups and usually work them into my sets.
Leg Raises- I do these weekly too. I like them for the lower abs. You lay on your back and just raise your legs strait and repeat reps without hitting the ground. When you have heavy muscular legs its fun ;)
Bicep curls - I like doing these weekly at home too. I have a simple set of 15# hand weights and when I cannot get to the gym they do the trick.
Tricep Kickbacks- Again just like the biceps its good to do them at home when looking for something.
Wall sits- these are easy and can be done from everywhere! I like to sit for a minute or 2. When I feel really crazy I will wall sit and squat while sitting there, now there is a quad burn!
Burpees, these are classics I like throwing them into a home workout for some cardio that can be done anywhere, I like jumping jacks for that purpose too.
So when I am home I basically write on a post it my routine and work through 3 or 4 sets of it. I mix it up and use these exercises however I want. Some examples:
Do 3 times through:
25 push ups
25 bicep curls
25 tricep kick backs
25 leg raises
25 sit ups
2 minute plank hold
You get the idea :) Sometimes I will do 10 each and repeat 4 or 5 times.
Really the point is, you can train from home when pressed for time and if you are spending so much time running and working on a race goal, why not make sure you are strength training a bit too to make sure you give yourself the best advantage come race day?
Plus who does not love well defined muscles ;) It is funny you never notice it until you look at race picutres, well I don't anyways haha you see your action shots and you are like wow I guess those squats and lunges do work!
And I do not even want to hear the I will get bulky argument. unless you are a body builder and doing a lot of different things, you will not gain huge muscles. In fact I think when I want to look girly I can ;)
Now I would love to hear your thoughts :)
Thanks Brenna, for the topic!
P.S. Do not forget to run with us!!! The Fight Forever 10K and 5K is coming up in 3 weeks!! :)