Intensity is where the results are so it’s definitely a good thing. You can’t reach goals without pushing your limits.
However, I’m seeing so many gyms and routines focused on intensity lately and often it’s just for intensity sake. Everything is made harder just so it’s harder.
It’s intensity for intensity’s sake and this is how we run into problems. Problems like injuries.
If you’ve gotten an injury from your workout, you’re doing it wrong. You’ve pushed well beyond your capacity and your body couldn’t handle it.
When the only goal is finishing your workout in a pool of your own sweat on the floor, this isn’t a good thing. If the idea is to “crush anybody that tries this” then the workout doesn’t have any other goal. It’s not specific to any person.
Smart intensity knows your limits and pushes on that. It makes it hard for YOU.
Stop focusing on intensity for intensity’s sake. This usually means pushing well past our limits and this type of training often ends with injury.
If you’re going to push, you need to know why you’re pushing and how far to push. You need to know how that pushing will benefit you, not harm you.
The worst thing you can do for yourself is be comfortable…
Ok ok hear me out for a second!
The best work is done when you venture out of your comfort zone. I feel it too – I suffer from that fear of getting uncomfortable.
“We’re involved in racing because there’s that element of competition. But there’s that desire to push yourself beyond the natural comfort zone and the boundaries that are preset if you like, and to be better than the rest.” – Allan Mcnish
Then you’re struck with negative self talk, “what if I try and fail, what if everyone laughs at me, what if I have nothing to offer”.
Instead of fighting against that negative self talk, it’s so much easier to sit back and stay comfortable with where you are.
What is the number 1 reason why runners don’t lift weights?
We think it will make us bulky!
But here’s the thing, lifting weights won’t make you bulky and as a runner you can’t afford to not lift!
In coach Ian’s post this week you will find some great info on the different effects of lifting. Lifting for results as opposed to lifting to put on weight is very possible. It’s actually difficult to get bulky even if you want to! The pros to adding a smart lifting regimen to your training plan far outweigh any possible negatives.
Lifting – just like running – isn’t a one size fits all venture. There are a lot of lifting styles and most of it depends on what kind of runner you are. It also depends on your time available, training schedule, athletic ability and access to resources.
Let’s look at the pros to implementing a well thought out lifting regimen:
1. Strength Gains
No not Gainz – I’m talking about wattage and output. It’s the same philosophy behind why we run hills in most base phases: lifting will help us build overall strength and help recruit and revive some of the fast twitch fibers that have been beaten down by the miles and miles you’ve been putting in on the road.
Out of the two days a week – yep only two days a week – one of my athletes lift days is made up of Back Squats, Bench Press, RDL’s, and Shoulder Press. This is for the purpose of training your total body and working muscle groups that become neglected by the hours on the road. While the other day is structured for more running specific movements, lighter weight but working strengthening your body in the same plane.
2. Running Economy (Better efficiency)
An added benefit that has really spurred lifting among the elite running groups is the scientific finding that lifting heavy will improve your overall running economy. Running economy (RE) in a more layman’s definition is how efficient you are while running, how much energy do you waste – so think height of your stride, unnecessary movement side to side or simply foot strike.
Lifting helps RE by making you stronger, your upper body is stronger – holding your shoulders up right – and your back is stronger keeping your torso more upright. Thus your form holds up longer and fatigue won’t have as much of a factor at the end of races and hard efforts.
3. Faster Recovery (Hormone regulation)
Lifting heavy has been shown to increase testosterone production which goes a long way towards your rate of recovery. It is also helps to counteract estrogen production which depending on who you are can be triggered by the wear and tear your body goes through on a long run and your runs throughout the week.
4. Helps Build Endurance (No really!)
Eccentric lifting – resistance training – helps to build local endurance in the muscle group you are working. So local endurance, lets take a squat for example – you are building local endurance in those particular muscle groups, glutes x hips x hamstrings. Local endurance may not sound as sexy as running endurance but you have to think of that throughout your workout session. After a set your cardio system is still working hard, trying to help deliver more oxygen to your muscles – it’s the same philosophy behind post run strides and core.
So not only does lifting help build endurance in muscles crucial to running form it also helps along your overall endurance. This is my favorite part of lifting early in the season – every bit of work that helps your fitness progress goes towards building your base as strong as possible.
5. Staying Injury Free
Compound lifts especially, work groups of muscles that are neglected in the running motion or muscles that are relied on to stabilize but are either overworked or underutilized. When you think of being a total athlete that means being well balanced and all around strong. I am also a firm believer in pre-hab, strengthening muscles, as opposed to rehab, only addressing your weak areas when you are forced to!
This total strength approach will make you strong and force you to work on areas that have been neglected in the past. We want PRs and the best way to arrive at a personal record is to be consistent and strength training will be the best way to get you there.
So where do I start?
The best option is to find a coach that can work with you and design a program based on your specific needs and weaknesses. To learn more about what I do, check out my coaching page.
Not ready to go all in? You can also check out our membership options for a basic weekly fitness program. They are a good place to get started with all-around strength routines that only take about 20 minutes.