Jason Fitzgerald wrote an article for Competitor.com, “How to Use Progression in your Strength Workouts” that provided me with two “EUREKA!” moments. He reminded readers that to get faster, runners plan more difficult sessions “over the course of a training cycle”, and this training approach is called ‘progression’.
So when it comes to building strength it also makes sense, he says, to use the concept of progression. Instead of performing the same old, same old sessions, year after year, Fitzgerald advises implementing a program that aims to increase the amount of weight that is lifted, rather than increase endurance with a greater number of repetitions, to become stronger runners. This was the first time the lightbulb went off in my head while reading his article. The message: approach strength training in the SAME way as speed and distance work by making it progressively harder.
He lays out a plan to move from general strength building with bodyweight core exercises over 3-5 weeks, to performing the same exercises with a medicine ball to raise the difficulty level for another 3-5 weeks. At this point, he indicates, it’s safe to take on more advanced work with weights in the gym.
There’s MUCH more valuable advice to help you put together a progressive strength building program in the article, including several tips to help fine-tune your work. One of the tips provided the second moment of sudden clarity for me. Fitzgerald recommended scheduling a hard lifting workout on a hard run day!!! “Too many runners schedule hard strength days on rest days or after an easy run”, he says. “Instead, lift after your long run or faster workout to stimulate additional fitness adaptations”.
WOW. To me this is a revolutionary approach compared to what I’ve always done. It means going back to the drawing board and re-thinking my training plan for this year. I'll need to check if it can be done safely by non-elite runners, and go forward slowly with any changes in my personal training. There won't be alterations to the HALF MARATHON with "SAINTS DAYS" training plan, but those following it might want to consider whether this will work for you.
Fitzgerald started with the sentence “Keep improving with your strength training and the running results will follow.” And that’s a good thought with which to finish this post, because it’s the reason most of us would incorporate this kind of work into our training regimen.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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