Monday, August 27, 2012

Marathon Monday: Strong armed training

I am training for the Columbus Marathon and following a schedule based on the "Train Like A Mother" finish it plan. These posts document my training.

The week, in running:
Tuesday: 3.25 miles (+stroller)
Wednesday: 6 miles, intervals
Thursday: 3.1 miles (+stroller)
Friday: 8 miles, negative split
Sunday: 17.6 miles, long run

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"You never know what you are capable of unless you challenge yourself," I told my BODYPUMP class on Saturday after a particularly grueling bicep track.

After weeks of teetering on the edge of whether to increase my weights, I bit the proverbial bullet and upped the ante this weekend. I kept my warmup weight the same (3.5 kilograms on each side) but moved up on back, triceps and biceps.

Let's just say it wasn't my smartest move - on more than one level.

The bicep problems were the most visible. I had increased from 3.5 kilograms on each side to 5 (converted, that's 22 pounds on the bar + the weight of the bar) and by the time we were on the final set of eight singles, it took all I could to demonstrate proper form - no swinging, upper body still and arms at side with a little room for the holy spirit. Eventually, I faltered; digging in my elbows for support to finish the track. It was fairly stupid of me and had I known the conversion ahead of time, I don't think I would have tried to lift 12 pounds on each side for 100 reps. 

It wasn't just the pain of looking bad that took its toll, though; it was the physical pain of the effort. Increasing my bicep weight had left my arms incredibly sore and the increase on back left me with tight hamstrings and a stiff torso. I creaked and crackled as I got out of bed on Sunday and as I headed downstairs for my pre-long run bagel thin, I took the steps with the grace of a geriatric awaiting a hip replacement. 

I know there are people who don't like to run when they are sore but a long run is a long run, and you need to get it in regardless of whether your legs are tired. And in doing so, you will be reminded that you use more than your quads when logging miles.

If you watch the video, all 22 seconds of it, you'll be reminded that as you run, you use your quads, hamstrings, core and - wait for it - biceps.  

Core. A strong mid-section doesn't just look good when you take off that tank top 6 miles into your long run; it's key to proper mechanics and injury prevention. The muscles in the core help to stabilize the muscles and joints around it, most importantly the pelvic area. Not only strengthening the area but learning to activate it will leaned to improved posture, form and efficiency. (Source and Source)

Biceps. I never thought much about my arms when running until Jess mentioned a "Come on Ride the Train" technique to help propel herself up hills. I'm not sure she used that name exactly but she said she moved her arms like train wheels to give her more power. I tried it and was hooked. During my long run this week, feeling every arm swing down the trail, I learned that bicep strength isn't just for hill power. "An important aspect of arm swing is that the movement of your upper body helps to balance out the work done by your lower body. If you only used your pelvis and legs to run, and your upper body was motionless, you would experience a lot more effort and work." (Source)

Hamstrings. If your quads are the gas pedal, your hamstrings are the brakes. And we all know what happens when your brakes go out. You drive two hours home, praying to Jesus that you can roll through stop signs and not hit any traffic. "Logging a lot of miles on the roads can place repetitive functional overload on the quadriceps, making them strong, powerful and dominant. When the quadriceps contract as you land, the opposing muscles, the hamstrings, act as brakes to stop your knee from hyperextending at the end movement of a stride." (Source) Add in hills, which force you to shorten your stride and work harder, and you'll feel those hammies even more. (Source)

Phew. I feel all smarty pants now.

Obviously, I didn't think up those things but it all reaffirms my belief that strength training is vital to running. I ran my half-marathon PR - a whopping 7 minutes off my previous time - with consistent strength training, as well as a a 10K PR at 7 weeks pregnant. And I did it all injury free.

For me, BODYPUMP has been a great way to incorporate weights into a running program - obviously - as it works the entire body in an hour and focuses on higher repetitions to tone and lengthen as opposed to bulk and build. But there are other ways.

What are yours?

1 comment:

  1. I heart strength training. Besides making me a better runner, I have come to really really enjoy pushing my limits. Even if it DOES mean running sore sometimes :)