Weight Lifting Can Enhance Your Running Program

By: proctor - February 22, 2012
Sometimes it just doesn't feel like you can break through a running plateau. You try to go faster, but it just doesn't happen. Maybe your form fails, maybe your lungs start to burn, or maybe you get a side stitch. How do you break through plateaus and continue to increase your pace, strength, and fitness level? Try adding weight lifting or changing your weight lifting routine if you already are lifting weights. Christine Blanchette from the Vancouver Courier wrote an article last week that you might find helpful as you try to understand why lifting weights, and not simply more running, may make you a better runner. Read the article here:

Even the heartiest of runners look at February's grey, low-hanging rain clouds and consider waving the white flag. But winter doesn't have to win. After months of running outdoors, your body will welcome a change and the benefits of diverse training will also make you a more well-rounded athlete.

For the novice jogger or veteran road racer, there are countless ways to sweat buckets and stay fit.

I'm a fan of individual sports and recommend lifting weights at the gym as a great cardio-building and fat-burning workout.

A moderate weightlifting program will help runners, including long-distance marathoners, strengthen muscles that aren't used in running. If all you do is run, certain muscles (your hamstrings, for example) will become stronger, but the quadriceps will not. This imbalance can lead to injury.

When you are working out with weights, try to use the same or similar amounts of weight for opposing muscle groups, such as the biceps and triceps, or the quads and hamstrings. The weight you lift with your hamstrings may feel easy, but that's OK. Your hamstrings get plenty of exercise from running. If the amount of weight you need to challenge your hamstrings is hard to lift with your quads, it's better to lift less weight with the hamstrings than to overtax your quads. Once you build more strength, you will feel comfortable lifting the same amount of weight with both muscle groups.

In half an hour, you can fit in two to three sets of 10-15 repetitions for a few key muscle groups, including the hamstrings and quadriceps, adductor and abductor muscles of your inner and outer hip, and the bicep and triceps. The weight should be heavy enough that your muscles start to feel tired during the second or third set.

Strength and conditioning coach Jim Talo with Vancouver's Human Motion gym recommends getting a Functional Movement Screen, a seven-test system that determines an individual's mobility, stability and movement patterns.

"Before doing any type of cross training in the gym such as weights or circuit training, get a FMS, which takes 10 minutes to do and most physiotherapists can do the assessment," he said.

Talo believes most endurance athletes should be screened before introducing new features to their workout. "Athletes are very good at compensating any of their weaknesses or injuries and with endurance sport, for the most part, the athletes are doing the same movement pattern over and over and if their movement pattern isn't efficient, it could be compensated elsewhere in the body."

He adds, "Someone who has been at it for a while may not be mobile in the hips, and you don't want to add load to that because your body will compensate for the lack of mobility."

He said many physiotherapists and trainers are now adding FMS screening to their repertoires as the test becomes more mainstream and recognized as a straight-forward method to detect red flags in an athlete's movement.

Blaise Dubois, a boundary-pushing Quebecois physical therapist who specializes in injury prevention, suggested the FMS and particularly recommended runners develop their core strength if they're planning to add weight training to their workout.

"What is important in any change in training is to be progressive and to listen to your body even if the exercises are very good," he said.

Other excellent options for cross training include swimming, which is a total body workout, and ping pong, which will leave you soaked in sweat if you're competitive and playing against a like-minded opponent.

Read more: www.vancourier.com

About the Submitter


I have been an ACE certified personal trainer since 2000 who has trained over 3000 hours. I specialize in pre- and post-natal fitness, stretching, running, and weight loss. Yoga is also a passion for me and a way of life. I received my Yoga Alliance Teacher Certification in India and love to share the calmness, strength, and openness that yoga offers to people of all ages and abilities.

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