It doesn't have to be this way.
There's no denying the difference that this training has made in my running. I credit all of that to the change in my training, which is lower mileage and more strength training/interval training. In fact, Becky herself is working on a testimonial about the change CrossFit has made for her. This is her 5 year anniversary doing CrossFit, and you can see from the pictures what a change she has made in her physique, as well as the way she carries herself. Becky is a big believer in CrossFit, but interestingly, when I asked her about CrossFit Endurance, she told me NOT to read the book. So she's not drinking the koolade. It's why I love her. The heavy weight lifting I do with her is not specific to CrossFit.
A recent study found that for masters athletes, heavy lifting increased running efficiency. Increasing muscle strength by lifting weight will give you more power and faster muscle contractions.
"When muscles don’t need to work as hard, they also don’t require as much oxygen or circulating blood and therefore will not put as much demand on the heart, which in turn will lower that rate at which it beats. A significant improvement in endurance will be the result. Greater strength does equal greater endurance." -Brendan Brazier, How to Build Strength to Improve Muscle EfficiencyStrength training also improves coordination because lifting heavy weights forces us to be really conscious of our positioning. Being a natural klutz, I was pleased to see that. Practicing the skill of weightlifting over time leads to better form on the road and less repetitive stress injuries as well.
Another comment I hear from runners about weightlifting is that they don't want "to get big". Big bulky muscles would obviously be a detriment on the road. But as runners, we are lifting weights to get stronger, not to bulk up, and our workouts are different than bodybuilders. Have you seen me? I get called skinny (which I don't take as a compliment, by the way). I certainly don't look like a bodybuilder. But Becky has me do a strength cycle twice a year, lifting heavy weights.
|Don't think I'll be winning any bodybuilding competitions!|
|Perpetuating the myth of bad knees...|
Ok, so I've established the benefits of strength training and injury prevention. Oh, and by the way, you don't need to do a lot of strength training. Once or twice a week is sufficient. When Becky and I are doing a heavy lifting cycle, we work together once a week, for 30 minutes. That is all that is needed to make a difference. Believe it or not.
As a runner, what exercises should we be doing to prevent injuries?
Deadlifts and squats.
|Wearing my weightlifting socks! With the heavy weights, my Gel Nimbus were too cushioned and unstable. Seriously!|
At heavy weights. And low reps. Maybe even only 1!
Because these 2 exercises impact large muscle groups which support your joints. These exercises will strengthen your glutes and hamstrings, and will give you power. Trust me on this one. Hill repeats? Who needs them after this? Squatting and deadlifting heavy will also provide stability to your joints. The articles below also have pictures and descriptions of strength training for runners.
And there is that whole bone density thing...
Who's got time for a fracture? Not this old timer.
Keep in mind that every activity we do has the risk of injury. A few weeks ago, when doing my deadlifts at 95% max, I felt something tug in my right hamstring. Tug is putting it mildly, actually. It hurt. And I dropped the set. I was scared! Luckily, by the next day, I was fine, just sore. But as much as this heavy lifting seems fraught with injury, running by nature is repetitive. The more we run, the more likely we are to aggravate something. By mixing it up, by strengthening the muscles, we can protect those joints and bones. We may not even need to run as much because we've increased our running economy.
And by the way, I've never thrown up from a CrossFit workout.
Be smart, and be strong.
Do you strength train?
I did my homework for this one! Lots of Sources:
I'm linking this post with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday! Check out what everyone else is saying.