During the training for my first marathon, I really dedicated to doing all the right things to finish the race, hit my goal and stay injury-free. I managed to do all three. Not an easy feat if you’ve ever put in the time and effort to train for a long endurance race.
I attribute most of that success to the ability to train consistently over time. And I attribute that success to really dedicating to the little strength exercises pre and post run and to almost daily foam rolling sessions.
If there is one workout that should be in every runner’s training plan, whether for a 5k or a marathon, it’s the tempo run. It is the one workout, when done correctly, that is almost guaranteed to be beneficial and show results for every type of runner.
Twenty years ago I could lace up my shoes and get out for a run without any serious repercussions. There was no thought of nutrition, no warm up. There wasn’t much thought beyond, “Let’s go for run.”
Those days are long over. Today, I rarely roll out of bed without some ache or pain nagging at me to notice it. Some of those aches are just age, but when the chorus gets too loud, I know I’ve probably been neglecting my pre- and post-run routines.
Triathlon training is about balance. You need to prepare and train for 3 very different disciplines and there are only so many hours in the day. But it gets worse because to really succeed and give your best effort and avoid injuries there is a fourth discipline you need to consider: strength training.
Strength training is where I struggle most whether it’s in a training block for a triathlon or a marathon or something else. It just seems like it’s the first thing to fall off the plan when things get squeezed. This is doubly true during the season. I’ve found some success using HIIT sessions that combine cardio and weights during the off-season, but I still struggle to maintain a regular strength session within a training block.
As a Dad, with a full-time day job, in addition to blogging, 60 minutes is usually the absolute max I can spare for a workout and still make a dent in my daily to-do list. In order to get the most fitness return for my time, I lean heavily on VO2 max intervals across biking, cycling and swimming to get me as ready as possible for my races. And this strategy can work really well in boosting strength and fitness, but you need to be careful as there is a dark side to leaning too heavily on interval training.
I’m comfortable saying it now. I’m not a gym person. I know strength training is important for an endurance athlete or runner, but getting in the gym and lifting weights is at the absolute bottom of my list of training activities.
In the last year, I’ve found HIIT workouts to be helpful by mixing in the cardio with the weights, but even then I struggle to get myself to the gym to lift. My preference to improve strength and speed is to actually do it by running and the best way I know to do that is to run hills. That’s what I did yesterday.
Woke up to this email sitting on top of the stack: “Participant update: 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.” Whoa. That will make it all feel real. Not that I’d forgotten, but it’s been a couple months now since I signed up and I’m hip deep in spring triathlon training, so it had drifted to the back of my mind. Now, with a little flutter in my stomach, it’s jumped back to the front.