Mileage stayed up this, but I had a few more struggles than last week. It’s finally the last month of training, and I am beyond ready for a little training break after this race. My CrossFit box started a new strength cycle this week, which meant retesting some of the olympic lifts to get 1 rep max numbers to base percentages off of. My 1 rep max lifts were all about 10 pounds lower than my best numbers, which in the past would have been really frustrating for me, but I know that strength training as a runner in the middle of a training cycle isn’t about 1 rep max numbers. I’ve definitely had the experience of hitting heavier lifts during a training cycle, but I know it’s not the norm.
I had a lot of trail running in this week, and my legs were TIRED at the end of the week. Most of the week was pretty typical, with work and running and CrossFit. The weather was pretty fantastic all week. On Saturday, after my long run, Enrique had a birthday party at a park and then we checked off “Gingerbread House.” We’ve been doing the Elf on a Shelf, so we’ve had a week full of Christmas fun around here.
Strength Training For Runners
Why Runners Need to Strength Train
Strength training has so many benefits for runners, even if it’s not a runners favorite activity. Strength training builds up muscle tissue in a way that just running can’t accomplish, no matter far how go. In fact, sticking to running exclusively can leave athletes much more susceptible to injuries for a number of reasons. Having muscle tissue that is denser and stronger can help runners prevent soft tissue injury, while it also protects bones from the repeated impact that can cause overuse injury and stress fractures.
Focused strength training can help runners improve their overall speed and pace. Having stronger glutes, calves, hamstrings, and even back and arm muscles can give runners the ability to generate more power, increasing speed. Having stronger muscle fibers and groups can also help runners maintain better form for a longer period of time. Better form with less effort means improved running economy, which is just a fancy way of saying athletes can further at faster paces, without feeling as difficult.
How Runners Need to Strength Train
The great thing about strength training is that, unlike running, there’s countless ways to go about it. Not interested in olympic weightlifting? Cool, don’t do that. Every runner should aim to get in at least 2-3 strength workouts a week that last for at least 30 minutes. More isn’t necessarily better, but it can be beneficial if structured intelligently. Many runners prefer the convenience of body weight exercises, which can be sufficient. Body weight strength training can be done almost anywhere, and doesn’t require a financial investment, but runners need to be prepared for fairly high rep volumes in order to stimulate muscle growth.
Runners who aren’t interested in lifting weights have lots of options, too. Options can range from bootcamp style workouts to CrossFit to simply working out in the garage with a set of dumbbells or a kettlebell. I always encourage clients to consider working with a certified professional to make sure form is good and safe. And while a lot of runners fear “getting bulky,” it takes a lot of intention to add on substantial amounts of muscle mass. It doesn’t happen accidentally; as a woman has been CrossFitting for the last 7 years, I can promise adding muscle mass doesn’t happen unintentionally. But in order to reap the benefits of strength training, athletes need to make sure they are fueling appropriately (which probably means eating more).
If you have questions about how to fuel sufficiently, reach out to a dietician that specializes in performance athletes. I can’t recommend Lindsey from Rise Up Nutrition more highly. And if you need some workout routine inspiration, feel free to head over to my Workouts Page.
What to Expect
Pretty much like all things in life, starting out a new strength training program will probably feel uncomfortable. Your body might feel uncoordinated or inadequate, but that just means your body doesn’t know how to do something it hasn’t been taught to do. So stay patient! You can also expect that your body is going to feel sore, especially when you start. Think back to your early days of running, and remember the first time you sat down after a 10k and then tried to get up? You can probably expect the same feeling after you do multiple sets of squats for the first time. Again, don’t be discouraged.
Gaining strength is a pysiological process that involves muscle tissue breaking down and then rebuilding. This process can result in weight fluctuations, since your body will retain some water. For a lot of women, there might be some feelings around this fluctuation. I have a lot of opinions about this (mostly that gaining weight is nothing worth stressing over), but if it is frustrating, remember that actually increasing mass (fat or muscle) takes a lot of time. So gaining a few pounds overnight is a result of water weight, and nothing else.
If you want to get the most out of your training, and you haven’t already, it’s time to make friends with strength training. The benefits are undeniable, and consistent strength training can substantially improve performance. Plus, it can be a great way to feel strong and confident. If you have questions about how to get started, or how to balance strength training with running, please reach out to me through my Contact Me Page.
This Weeks Workouts
Total Miles: 78
Total Workouts: 4
100k Training, Week 5
How the Runs Felt
This week started and ended with long runs on the trails; Sunday on the road and Saturday on the trails. After last Saturday’s long run with lots of climbing, I was relieved to feel like 15 miles on the greenway just clicked by without much thought. I ran in the afternoon, and I finally got in a good, long run after 2pm without any nausea. My stomach isn’t made of iron just yet, but hopefully this means it’s getting there. Monday was another hill workout on the powerlines, followed by 2 road miles after work.
My speed workout this week was another round of 5 minute pushes with 1 minute of recovery. I didn’t hit paces quite as fast this week, but I also didn’t feel like I was teetering on the edge of death during the workout. The rest of the week was nice, easy runs on the roads and trails. Saturday, I met up with my friend Lindsay who joined me for about 10 miles at Freidrich park. My legs felt heavy the entire run, and it was a serious struggle to finish out the last 13 miles on my own. The trails are Freidrich have a good amount of climbing and a lot of rocks, which is great for Bandera training, but exceptionally painful with tired legs.
I really neglected my stretching, recovery, and massage this week, and I freaking paid for that mistake. I could feel my range of motion being significantly limited, and even though my energy felt really great, I really struggled. The highlight of my long run was trying out target’s knock off mini Lara bar as part of my fueling plan. The chocolate chip cookie dough flavor tastes like heaven, and it’s only about 3 bites worth of food. Perfect for trail runs.
How the WODs Felt
I worked out in the box for all my strength workotus this week, since we were testing our 1 rep maxes and I wanted to get good numbers for this next cycle. I expected that my lifts would be less heavy than they have been in the past since I haven’t been back in the box very long, and I’ve mostly worked out on my own since last March. Knowing that I am also getting to the end of my 100k training cycle helped me to not feel frustrated with my numbers. I know I have a lot of opportunity to focus on strength after Jan 8, and I’m ready to shift gears a little and prioritize strength a little more.
What I’ve Been Listening To
I listened to so many amazing episodes this week. I finished up Do No Harm, this week. It ends with a look into how two families went through the same issue. One family who was black was kept from their children for almost two years, while a white family was able to be reunited with their children after a significantly shorter period of time. It was so disheartening to hear how racial prejudice just devastated an entire family, and it brings into question how many other cases are similar. I also happened to catch an episode of Trust Me; a really interesting podcast where two women who were previously involved in cult groups discuss their experience and the experiences of others who were also involved in cults. Their most recent episode was with the man who inspired the movie American History X; a guy who spent years as part of a neo-Nazi group and who now advocates for anti-racism. It was an incredible episode that really went into how people are brought into these groups and the brainwashing that takes place.
I also caught an amazing episode on Female Athlete Nutrition, which is a newer podcast hosted by a Sports Dietitian. She recently interviewed Mary Cain, who talked about the intersection of high pressure and achievement in sports, diet culture, mental health, and disordered eating. It was so insightful and interesting. I really recommend all women checking it out.
What Went Well
My stomach has been great, which is definitely encouraging. As difficult as the long run at the end of the week was, I know I only have one more week of high mileage before the decrease and tapering begins, and I have been holding on to that little nugget.
What Went Shitty
I did not follow through with getting in enough stretching this week, but I did get up a little more to walk around during the day. Having tight calves, ankles, and hips was a huge struggle during my long run, and it might have been enough to get me to stubbornly accept defeat and prioritize my stretching this week.
Plans to Improve Next Week
Next week, I’m not going to let myself run unless I have done the stretching I needed to the day before. Hopefully having that external boundary will force me to do what I need to.