If I am completely honest, making time for strength training is one of my biggest struggles. A few years ago, I tried incorporating crossfit a few times a week into my running routine, but I found I was sore for days after lifting. It really impacted my desire to run (negatively).
After that, I took a break from running one winter to focus solely on building strength through body weight exercises. After that break from running, I ran 3 training runs and then PR’d in a 10 mile race. Don’t be fooled – the PR was likely because I’ve only raced a 10 mile race once or twice before so it wasn’t that big of a deal. But, for not running much at all leading up to the race, I remember feeling rather strong and solid. But then something unfortunate happened… I began to run more and strength train less.
After my twin pregnancy in 2014 when I returned to running, I vividly remember doing speed work with a group in Central Park, sensing the urge to urinate, and before I could do anything to stop it, feeling a warm, wet sensation running down my leg. To make matters worse, I was wearing grey shorts so it was pretty clear to any curious bystanders that I peed myself. This is what we call weak pelvic floor. I shudder when I think of how little I did to rehab my body after pregnancy. I just ran. I was focused on training for a marathon so I just ran. I’m certain that my marathon was MUCH slower than it could have been if I’d incorporated core work into my routine.
Sadly for me, I haven’t consistently included strength training into my running until this year as part of Ironman training.
But, live and learn, right? Maybe you can benefit from my mistakes.
Assuming you have a limited amount of time, what are the biggest “bang for your buck” movements for building strength?
The short answer is you should do whatever strength training you will actually do on a regular basis. If you have full body workout video that you love, do that. If you attend a bootcamp class 2x a week, keep it up!
In running, especially if you are doing hill repeats or running over hilly terrain, you build leg strength. It is wise to reinforce this with supplemental glute strengthening (especially because most runners don’t engage their glutes enough when running) and core strengthening.
Here’s a short strength workout you can complete at home (while the baby naps, first thing in the morning or before bed) in 15 minutes or less. If you don’t have access to a resistance band loop, just omit the Monster Walk.
Repeat these exercises 2-3x, a few times a week.
|Air Squats||Stand with feet just wider than hip width apart. Sit your rear back as if you’re sitting in a chair. Your weight should be in your heels. Squat down until your butt is lower than your knees. As you push back up, engage your glutes by squeezing your rear and thrusting your hips forward.||1 min.|
|Walking Lunges||Stand upright, feet together, and take a controlled step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. Step forward with your left leg.||1 min.|
|Monster Walk||Place a resistance band around your ankles. Stand with feet hip width apart and move laterally. Step your right foot to the right. You’ll feel the resistance band tightening. Follow with the left foot by stepping your left foot right. Keep moving to the right. At the 30 second mark, move left, leading with your left foot.||1 min.|
|Bridge||Lay on the floor facing up. Put your feet on the floor below your knees. Slowly raise your hips toward the sky until your body is in a straight line from your chest to your knees. For added challenge, lift one leg straight up, bottom of your foot towards the ceiling. And lift both hips toward the sky. Switch legs half way through.||1 min.|
|Front Plank||Tighten your ab muscles and lower your upper body to your forearms, clasping your hands together and aligning your shoulders directly over your elbows. Extend both legs with your feet flexed and toes touching the floor so that you balance your body in a line like a plank. Hold. Breathe comfortably.||1 min.|
|Side Plank||Lie on your right side, in a straight line from head to feet, resting on your forearm. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder. With your abdominals gently contracted, lift your hips off the floor, maintaining the line. Keep your hips square and your neck in line with your spine. Lower your hips to the floor. Switch sides.||30 sec. ea.|
|Push-ups||Resume front plank position with hands on the floor directly under the shoulders. Slowly lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows until the degree between your forearm and upper arm is less than 90 degrees.||10-15|
|Supermans||Lay on your front with your arms extended out in front of you shoulder width apart and legs extended behind with feed hip width apart. Lift your hands and feet towards the sky until they are at least 6 inches off the ground. Slowly lower. Repeat.||1 min.|
Please let me know how you like them!