Comrades Update: Easing Into Strength Training

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Photo by W_Minshull

It’s no secret that I really dislike strength training.  I find no joy in lifting weights.  I know how important being lean and strong is for runners, but it all feels tiresome and pointless to me.  Where running is The Force, strength training is from The Dark Side.

One of the main pieces of advice I hear repeated by Comrades veterans is that strength training is critical for the down run.  I’m not surprised.  I have run the Boston Marathon four times, and I know that the last four miles (which are a glorious downhill) can be a nightmare on the quads if you’ve gone out to fast in the first seven miles, which are a not-so-obvious downhill.  I can only imagine the quad screaming one experiences in the second half of the Comrades down run.  I want to be prepared.

I have to trick myself into the strength work, though, or I won’t do it.  Although I could easily outline my own program, I know myself well enough to realize that I will have better adherence to someone else’s program.  Why?  Because if I’ve planned a particular exercise or set of exercises, and I just don’t feel like doing them that day, I’ll go off-script and do something else.  (Nine times out of ten, it will be something easier or something that won’t serve me as well.)  But if someone else is telling me what to do, I’m much more compliant.  Thus, I’ve chosen two 30-day programs available free on social media to do for the month of January to ease my way in to regular strength training.

The first is UK-based James Dunne’s Kinetic Revoultion 30-Day Challenge.  In the short videos (available via an email subscription or instagram @kineticrev), James presents two daily exercises.  The body-weight exercises are targeted to runners, so there’s lots of work in the glutes, hamstrings, abductors, adductors, and quads.  What I like about the program is that it’s well-balanced, with core exercises and stretches interspersed into the program every few days.  Each day’s workout takes 8-10 minutes, and it’s something you can do without breaking a sweat.

The second way I’m easing into strength training is with Yoga With Adriene‘s Yoga Camp on You Tube (also available via an email subscription or a pay-as-you-wish download). I’ve had a regular yoga practice for 13 years, but this is the first time I’ve done guided yoga for 20 straight days.  With a great mix of standing postures, pranyama, relaxation days, and challenging vinyasa sessions, the videos (most of which are around 30 minutes) are adding an important counterpoint to my workouts.  I feel more confident in my balancing postures, more supported in my low back, and more appreciative of what my body can do.  I must admit I have a fan-girl crush on Adriene– I love her attitude, and I find the way she describes what she is doing to be so clear that I can move through the entire practice with my eyes closed.    I’ve been doing the Yoga Camp videos in the evenings, sometimes with my kids alongside me and sometimes right before bed.  Either way, I’m really loving the positive contributions they bring into my day.

If you’re looking for ways to sneak some strength work into your workouts, I recommend both James Dunne’s Kinetic Revolution and Yoga With Adriene’s Yoga Camp.  These free programs are worth your time, and they’re led by reputable people who know the body well.  I can’t wait to see how they help with my running when I hit the road for my first 50K in six years at the end of the month.

Good health and great happiness to you!

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