Winter is in full swing. Cold and dark morning runs. Waking up early, the sun seems to never want to rise. With a hot cup of coffee in hand, it can be difficult to get going. But you throw on your warmest running gear, grab your headlight and head out the door.
Outside, exhales turn into fog. Your vision becomes restricted to the cone-shaped glow of the headlight. As you get moving your body starts to warm and your mind begins to open. Ever so slowly, the sun starts to peek over the horizon.
These are my favorite mornings. The darkness and the cold somehow make the world quieter, more peaceful. They also give me more space to think. Throw a gentle snowfall into the mix and it is perfect. For me, this is the time of year to put in the miles and build a solid base for the races later in the season. The morning runs make you tough and build the foundation for the work to come.
Winter is also a great time to work on strength training. Despite the research, runners are averse to the thought of lifting weights. The truth is a little strength training can go a long way. Strength training can improve running economy, performance, and may even reduce the risk of injury.
The goal of implementing strength training is to improve the body’s ability to tolerate the demands of running. No doubt about it, if you want to get faster you need to run more. Strength training can help prepare your body (muscles, tendons, ligaments) for the added miles. To do so, we need to lift heavy weights and the aim is to improve true strength.
Running places a lot of demand on the body. Key areas include the calf muscle complex (gastroc and soleus), the quads and the lateral hips. If you are going to start strength training, start with these areas in mind and keep it simple!
As with any training make sure that you start easy, and build slowly. Always include a good warm-up. Like running, do not jump into more than you can handle. Start with 2x a week with lighter loads and progress the intensity over time. Throughout the week focus on a push, pull, hinge and squat. Below is a sample routine for two athletes, a novice and a more experienced lifter.
And, here is my go-to routine:
Warm-up with a short run, air squats, and walking lunges
Barbell back squat 3×6 (Heavy)
Single leg heel raise holding kettlebell 3×10 (Heavy)
Lateral toe taps with thera-band 3x30s ea
That’s it.Short and simple. Easy to add to your training plan. As your body adapts to strength training the soreness will decrease. You will have no problems heading out for your run the next day.
Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions!
Run faster! Feel better!
P.S. Need help adding strength training to your current routine? Shoot me an email at email@example.com
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