Seeking: Strength Training Ideas

I am sitting in traffic on the way to the coffee shop dictating this post. I knew I didn’t want to type a lot today so I’m getting this started in the car. I want to save my coffee time for some good old fashioned journaling I need to do. Pen on paper.

I’ve been thinking about how great it would be to find somebody, not a coach per se, but another person who is on a similar journey to talk through the questions and the successes and believe me, failures of this process.

Right now, I have a lot of questions with respect to strength training. I’ve had a trainer, I know a lot of exercises. I have done Insanity a hundred thousand times (I love you Shaun T but I wore myself out on these videos!). What I’ve never had is someone to help me design a runner specific strength training program. Sure, I can research and do this on my own but I want to know what works for others!

In my current training schedule I have four days of running, two days of rest (or light yoga) and one day of cross. On my shorter mileage days I like to do weights at the gym before I run but I find that if I do a leg day to close to a long run day it makes my run day a lot harder, or if I do arms/abs I end up running out of time if I still want to run. I am strong but I want to be stronger. Should I trade one of my shorter run days altogether for strength training?

I listen to a lot of running podcasts and this episode of Run to the Top – If You are Serious About Your Running, Time to Get in the Weight Room with Jay Dicharry got my wheels turning.

A lot of people discuss and emphasize how crucial strength training can be for runners. I have to note that a lot of people also disagree with that claim. Jay is an experienced, athlete, coach, researcher and author. Jay has books that dive deeper into the topic but what I like about this interview is that he summarizes by identifying 3 categories of exercise that are especially beneficial to runners, and why.

Jay’s list includes:

  • Postural endurance
  • Strength training
  • Explosive training

Give the podcast a listen if you’re into this sort of thing. Here is also a link to Jay’s blog.

I’m curious to all of you runners out there, what do you do to incorporate strength training? Do you have any exercises in each category that you recommend? I’d love to hear from you and share ideas on this topic.


Berkeley Lake, taken on my run this morning.


One thought on “Seeking: Strength Training Ideas

  1. I’m definitely in the camp that thinks strength training is crucial to healthy running, at least for me. For so long, I ran and did yoga– I thought all the running I did inherently gained me strong hips and quads– i was so wrong and my knees suffered for it.
    I only strength train twice a week but I believe it has made a world of difference. I have a similar schedule to yours I think. Right now, two of my shorter run days I lift before. I definitely focus on quality, not quantity. I don’t separate upper body and lower body by days, I do rotating circuits of both. Depending on how much time I have, I pick 3-4 exercises each for lower and upper, and I quickly move between each exercise (upper body than lower) with little to no rest in between. I get 3 sets in of each–4 if i have more time. Time definitely begins to be an issue as our runs get longer–at least for me. I am already an early riser but I’ve been trying to adjust to some 5am wake-ups instead of 530, it helps to have a little more time to put the work in.
    I am definitely no expert when it comes to strength training, but I have had some guidance and interaction from some extremely knowledgeable and trusted people in the field. I keep things very basic, and i use very few selectorized machines. So many movements that we need as runners to strengthen our hips and quads and calves can be done really efficiently with no equipment at all or with dumbbells and the cable machine (I do A LOT of glute/hip/hamstring strengthening exercises on the cable machine with ankle straps). Upper body I focus on a lot of old school stuff-push-ups and pull ups and basic dumbbell curls. I also use the cables for upper body as well–there is a lot you can do. For me the big part is keeping moving. I don’t lift light-I lift heavy, but not so heavy that I have to rest after, I move on to the next exercise in the circuit. I think this really helps with endurance as well–which I never had before while strength training. I shock myself lately on the sweat that I get from strength training. When i focused on one exercise at a time there was more sitting around. I feel like i can get a lot accomplished in a shorter amount of time this way, and from what I have learned from people who know about this stuff, it is an effective way to train.
    Very much relate on the struggle to fit in abs-but I have been working to make sure i get them in because I have been starting to read how important core work is to running as well. Sometimes i leave at least one ab exercise to the end, right before I run, or sometimes i work in planks or crunches into the circuit. A few of my upper body exercises also work to engage my core as well so I am making sure that I am focusing on that as well and engaging my abs and using them to push or pull all the way through each rep. Lastly, yoga of course focuses a lot on core so I really try to put my energy there when I am at class once or twice a week.
    I used to feel like lifting made my legs feel really heavy for running after but it feels like that has improved over time. I do like to have one day of rest or yoga between a lift day and a long run, ideally, but mostly i just take it day by day.

    Liked by 1 person

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