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Strength Training & Runners

Runners are a funky bunch.

Image by Gamma Man via Flickr

Image by Gamma Man via Flickr

We have this thought in our minds that if we want to run longer races or get faster, we need to run more and run faster.

But we tend to forget one of the most important components of running farther and faster–strength training.

Runners Need Regular Strength Training

I don’t care what kind of race you’re running–from 5k all the way up to 100 miles–strength training needs to be a regular part of your routine.

At least it needs to if you want to get faster or run farther.

And strength training is a good way to avoid the injury bug as well.

Why Don’t More Runners Lift Weights?

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There are a number of reasons that many non-professional runners neglect lifting weights. But if you talk to most professional runners, no matter what distances they run, regular strength training sessions are just as important as logging their prescribed amount of miles.

The reasons that we skip strength training are many, but here are a few–

  • “I Don’t Want to Get Too Big”–This is an excuse used by many female runners, as well as some men. The thought behind this excuse is that by adding muscle size, it will actually get more difficult to run because you will have to carry around more weight. While this makes some sense logically, the fact is that if you are training properly you won’t add muscle mass, just strength and stamina. You know, the things that help you in the last third of your race.
  • “Strength Training Won’t Help Me Run Faster”–This excuse is shortsighted. In truth, just lifting weights won’t help you run faster. But by building up the strength of the muscles that you use to run, you will be able to train harder and run longer without tiring, both of which will help you improve your race times.
  • “I Don’t Have Time”–To be blunt, yes you do. You see, you don’t need to add 2-3 strength training workouts to your busy schedule to see the results. Instead, 2-3 15-20 minute sessions after a hard workout is enough to help you improve running economy, finishing kick, and stay injury free.
  • “I’ve Never Done Strength Training Before. Why Start Now?”–Seriously? We used to think the world was flat, that smoking cigarettes was safe, and that processed food was both convenient and nutritious. Just because you’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean it’s the only way or the best way. Give strength training a try, and see what happens.

There are so many reasons that strength training is important for runners of all speeds, sizes, and mileage levels that there really isn’t any good reason that you’re still putting off regular strength training.

But if you’re still not convinced, I’d love to know what is holding you back. Shoot me a message, and let’s have a conversation.

And make sure you check my next post, when I’ll be going over some of the many benefits of regular strength training in much more detail.

Blue Ridge Marathon–Been There, Run That!

This past weekend, I headed up to Roanoke, VA, to run in the mountains for the Blue Ridge Marathon.

While the trip was a blur (flight up Friday afternoon, race Saturday morning, fly home Saturday evening), I think I might have developed a little crush on the city of Roanoke and really want to head back for a longer visit soon. If you’ve never been in that part of the country, I can’t encourage you enough to go for a visit.

The race was advertised as the “Toughest Road Marathon in America”, and while I haven’t run every road race in the country (yet!) I can’t imagine finding one that is more difficult than this one.

I knew before the race started that the hills (let’s be honest, mountains) were going to be a challenge. I mean, living in Florida means we run on flat ground only. Sure, we have a couple of “hills”, and we can always run the overpasses, but we basically only run on flat surfaces.

And the only surfaces we didn’t run in Roanoke were flat.

Oy vey….

The race started out with a bit of a climb. And by a bit, I mean 7 miles. Straight up.

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Not Even Half Way Up!

Getting to the top of the first 7 mile climb was nice. Coolest thing, bagpiper at the top.

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There’s Nothing Better Than Bagpipes. Nothing.

Coming down the mountain provided a much needed break. I used to think that going down hills was harder than going up them, but that perspective changed long ago. I was flying down the hill, and I kept hearing people complain about the down hills.

I actually had to be reminded to slow down.

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Easy, Speed Racer

That first 7 mile climb was the biggest hill we ran, but it was far from the last. We kept going up and down for the entire race, which sucked, but there were some awesome views and gorgeous neighborhoods that we got to experience.

Looking Down on Roanoke

Looking Down on Roanoke

And since the hills never stopped coming, there was no shame and stopping or walking on occasion. No matter what the signs say.

So I Stopped. Do Something.

So I Stopped. Do Something.

Not a PR, But Still a Great Race

Going into the race, I knew that a new PR was out of the question. My A goal for the race was to be sub-4:30. A more realistic goal was to be sub-5:00, and I crossed the finish line at 4:52:10.

Not too shabby.

In Race Commentary

Looking back on the race, I’m really glad I took the trip north and ran the race. I got to meet some of my cool twitter friends in person, and knocked another state off of the list.

But during the race, I wasn’t quite as excited about what was going on. Check it out for yourself.

Did You Run the Blue Ridge Marathon This Year? How Did You Do?

If You Didn’t Run It, What Do You Think About Running a Marathon in the Mountains?

It’s Almost Race Time

Three days from now, I’ll be finished running America’s Toughest Road Marathon.

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How’s that for self confidence?

The Blue Ridge Marathon is happening on Saturday, and I can’t wait! I’ve been looking forward to this race for awhile now, though if I’m honest, I’ve been a little nervous about this race as well.

You see, as a naturalized Floridian, we don’t really have many hills to train on. In fact, the (only half-way joking) legitimate hills we have are actually road/highway overpasses.

No offense, but overpasses don’t quite measure up to the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is an advertised 7,500 feet of elevation change over the course of those 26.2 miles.

You could say that I’m slightly unprepared for this race, but I’m not sure that would accurately portray how this race is going to go. I know I’m capable of handling the miles, but the hills are going to kill me. If I can make it in less than 5 hours, it’ll be a win for me.

Just Having Fun

No matter how the race goes, the goal for this weekend is to just have fun. I’ll be flying up to VA on Friday morning, running the race Saturday morning, and flying home Saturday night. The travel itinerary isn’t ideal, but it is what it is.

And this way I can blame the lack of a PR on the condensed travel schedule! Hehe.

If any of y’all are running Blue Ridge this weekend, I’d love to meet you guys! Let me know, or give me a shout on twitter, and we can meet up at the expo.

And if you see me curled up along the side of the road on Saturday in the fetal positions, just keep going.

I’ll be ok.

Boston Marathon

Boston 2014

Every year, runners like me stop and dream about running the Boston Marathon.

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Then last year happened.

When those bombs went off last year, runners bonded together like never before. All across the country, different communities and clubs hosted races to help raise money for the victims, and to proclaim that the running family is as strong now as ever.

I’ve wanted to run Boston for a few years now, and while I’m still over an hour from qualifying, the dream is stronger now than ever.

So while I’m not running it this year, I’m there in spirit.

Run fast guys. Enjoy!

Gotta Love a Solid PR!

On Sunday, I ran in the inaugural running of the Celebration Marathon. This race was, in a word, fantastic, and I’d highly recommend that you consider running it next year.

For an inaugural event, the organizers did a tremendous job keeping things together and running smoothly. Were there some things that they might want to do differently next year? No question. But all in all, I didn’t see anything major that you could really complain about regarding this race.

I came closer to running a perfect race than ever before, only missing the mark by .06 miles. I also managed to PR by 21 minutes, so I was pretty stoked with my performance. I really wanted to end up under 4 hours, (official time was 4:08:34) so I could have done better, but a 21 minute PR will have to be good enough.

Photo by The Wife

Photo by The Wife

In my humble opinion, there were a lot more pros than cons with this race. And in truth, I almost had to reach to find any cons.

The Pros

  • Flat–If you are afraid of hills, this race is for you. There weren’t even any “Florida Hills”, aka overpasses, on this course. If you want flat and fast, come to Celebration in 2015.
  • Small Field–I know size is relative (that’s what she said), and for some bigger is better(and she said it again), but if you don’t want to have to dodge other runners for 26.2 miles, this race is for you. Granted the first half of the race is a bit crowded until those running the half split off, there’s nothing like having a little elbow room for the vast majority of the race.
  • Great Expo–Again, this is a bit relative, but I thought the expo was fantastic. I’m not a big expo fan to begin with. I’m more of a get my packet and get out of here kind of guy, but for a race with only 2000 people in it, I was really impressed. While there were fewer venders than at some big races, there were lots of samples to be given out and lots of products to try. And the cool thing about small race expos is that often the big companies shy away, but the small companies come to try and expand their customer base. So it’s cool to see some newer products from some newer companies.
  • Awesome Weather–I know there is no guarantee that the weather will be perfect again next year, but let’s be honest. The likelihood of good weather in Central Florida as opposed to the rest of the country at this time of year (polar vortex, anyone?) is pretty high. I’ll take mid-50s for the race, thank you very much.

The Cons

  • Two Laps–For the full, we basically ran the same loop twice. This isn’t a huge con, but the first lap we ran with those running the half so the course was a bit crowded. For most of it, there wasn’t much of a problem. But there was one stretch of about a mile, where it got really crowded during the first lap.
  • The Post Race Party–All in all, the post race party wasn’t bad. When we finished, we picked up a card to take to a variety of vendor in order to try samples of their food and drinks. The problem was that it wasn’t completely clear where to go to get the card after crossing the finish line, and some vendors ran out of items early. I know the vendors running out of food early isn’t the race organizers fault, but it was still a bit of a downer.

Overall, this was a fantastic race and I’d absolutely consider running it again. The only reason I’m not quite ready to commit to it again for next year is that I need to start running in more states than just Florida. But for the price, and for the fact that late January isn’t the greatest time to run a race in most other parts of the country, I’ll go out on a limb and say that at some point I’ll definitely run this race again.

If you’re thinking about running Celebration in 2015, do it. You won’t be disappointed!