You are slow because you are weak.
That’s just one of the things I learned from this super-awesome podcast I was listening to on Wednesday called Runner Academy with Matt Johnson. I have a feeling this is going to be my new favorite podcast. Okay, my favorite one for running.
(My favorite overall health and fitness podcast is Jillian Michaels’s. I particularly enjoy the chemistry between her and her funny producer Janice.)
Matt had an excellent interview with Owen Anderson, Ph.D., an exercise scientist, running coach, race director and writer. He has studied runners in Kenya, and recruited and coached elites from that country.
Matt and Owen were talking about ways for the marathoner to get faster, and Owen said one of the best things for a runner to do is get stronger by doing running-specific strength routines focusing a lot on leg strength. This will help with your endurance, your ability to hold faster pace for a longer amount of time, and will keep you from getting injured when you add mileage in your training. This thinking doesn’t just apply to a marathoner. Strength will help with speed at any distance.
Strength work, he said, is particularly important for new runners. Whether you’re training for your first 5k or your fifth marathon, do. your. strength. work.
I’ve sort of discovered the benefits of strength work recently on accident. I have been running a lot less—like less than 10 miles per week, but doing a lot more strength (I certainly don’t condone running this little; it just happened). BUT I aim to do 5-6 strength workouts per week. I aim for them to be circuit-type workouts and I aim for them to last about 30 minutes. I would say I get them done most days. But I have to admit that the last couple of weeks they’ve only been 15-20 minutes long due to illness, work and Christmas cookies.
With less running and more strength, however, I’ve noticed I’ve actually become more comfortable at a sub-8 pace (even though I’m 5+ pounds over my optimal weight!).
So how do you come up with a good strength routine?
Well, obviously, you could do a search online for one? Or you could pop in a Jillian Michaels DVD (which I used to do a lot, but sort of got burnt out on). Or you could go to the gym. My favorite strength routines, right now, are from the Jillian Michaels Hot Bod in a Box cards.
The cards explain how to split the workouts up so you effectively work one side of the body at a time: pushing muscles and pulling muscles. Jillian also stresses doing leg and core work with every workout. With the cards, I can create my own workouts. She also includes a bunch of pre-made interval workout cards in the box, and boy, those are tough! Those pre-made cards are workouts that are very similar to her videos.
The routines I have been creating work one side of the body (pushing or pulling), and I incorporate some type of squats and a couple types of core: planks, sit-ups, pelvic thrusts.
After listening to the Runner Academy podcast and Owen’s advice, however, I am going to tailor my strength workouts toward my running with one-legged squats and moves more specific to my sport.
Anyway. I’m not the expert here. Don’t take it from me. Find out why you’re slow by listening to the podcast for yourself. You NEED to listen to it if you are at all interested in becoming a better runner. It’s number RA013 of the Runner Academy titled “Challenge Your Thinking About Running: Coach Owen Anderson, Ph.D.” You’re welcome.