On Strength Training

December 9th, 2011 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts

Earlier this week, Nancy emailed me asking about my routine for strength/core training. Admittedly, it took me a few days to respond because …I don’t have one. Oops?

If you take a look at my 2011 goals or past training logs, you’ll see I want to incorporate more strength/core work. I even do from time to time! But mostly, that’s me going to the gym for 20-30 minutes after a run and picking up weights and pretending to lift and do a few crunches. I used to have a set routine I did 2x/week in college with my team, which was built into practice. I know that routine by heart, but have little desire and motivation to do it on my own!

Lauren summarized why we slack on strength/core training during a marathon pretty well. “When it’s so much simpler (and preferable!) to just go out for a run, it’s easy to start skipping the weights more and more frequently. The increased mileage and need for my legs to be fresh for workouts make it easy to give it up a few months in.”

If I’m running for 1-2 hours a day, you can bet I’m going to be tired. It’s tough for me to fit in the high mileage required to train for a marathon amidst a full-time job and social life. It’s even more tough to add any other sort of exercise on top of that, such as strength training. If I ever double workouts (which happens very rarely for me), you can bet I’ll spend that extra 30 minutes busting out another 4 miles over 30 minutes of strength training.

The thing is, I look and feel better when I strength train more regularly. Even as little as spending 30 minutes 2-3x a week making some small attempt. I feel more toned, lean, and strong. Strength training can only help me become a better runner. Less injury, better gait, stronger core, more powerful stride, etc.

After thinking some more, I realized while I am extremely self-motivated when it comes to running, I need direction when it comes to strength training. For me, there is more mental motivation to achieve mileage & workout goals because they directly equate to/predict my race performance. Not so much with a strength training routine, even if I make progress in how much I can lift or how I feel. So, what I’ve found that works best for me is going to a class at the gym. I need someone to dictate which moves I do and for how long, because I tend to quit much earlier than I should when I lift solo.

So I’m trying (again) to get in a routine while my mileage isn’t very high. On Sunday, I hit up my favorite Total Body Conditioning class at NYSC. Yesterday, I went to the gym and spent a good 45 minutes on a solid core routine I made up myself, actually breaking a sweat (imagine that!) I’m not planning to become some mean, lean, lifting machine, but I do want to work to get into a routine where I find a way to strength train twice a week that works for me. This is the perfect time as I’m not running much so I’ve got a bit of excess energy to get the ball rolling. Plus, I’ll be in a bikini in Miami for New Year’s, so you can bet yourself this is also focused a tad on vanity. I’ll be honest :)


After being home after about 3 weeks plane and hotel hopping, I headed to Trader Joe’s/Whole Food and majorrrrly stocked up on groceries since my fridge and pantry was pretty pathetic. Some of my top finds!

Candy Cane Green Tea...how did we only JUST meet?!

We've been out of pepper for a while. And now, I put this on EVERYTHING!

I always eat the samples at TJ's and never buy any of them. Whoops. This soup is the ONE exception. LOVE THIS SOUP!

I drink regular milk, but love the creamier taste of soy milk in my coffee & cereal. Whole Foods has "bulk" packs for pretty cheap!

My favorite salad: kale, red & yellow peppers, carrots, feta, walnuts & goddess dressing. Topped with shrimp! And still eaten from a tupperware even though I ate it at home.

Help Nancy out! What are your favorite strength training routine/tips? Are you naturally motivated to strength train regularly? Favorite groceries/foods you’re loving lately?

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15 Responses

  • The New Rules of Lifting for Women! It sounds lame, but I just started it and I really like it — it’s great for runners that are used to following a training plan, because the plan is super detailed and long. I don’t follow the diet because I think I eat pretty healthy already, but I’m loving the training routine — it gives me direction and set goals when I walk on to the weights floor at the gym so I don’t wander around aimlessly.

  • Meggie says:

    I do this thing that the NYU XC guys team taught me (sometimes) that is referred to has “voting.” I don’t know why it’s called that either — I think it’s because auto-correct changed the original name of it to that. Here is a link to a post (http://thethinksicanthink.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/whats-up-wednesday/) I wrote that includes the routine.

    I haven’t voted in a while though. Now, mostly doing my PT exercises.

    I agree, though. In high school/college, I had to do strength stuff, and I never got injured. Then again, I was playing tennis, but I did feel a lot stronger and it helped my tennis, for sure.

  • Ahhhh how I miss Trader Joe’s! They’re supposed to eventually get one here in the city center pf Houston but the first is supposed to come in the spring in a suburb about 45 minutes away. Argh! The tomato soup with some cous cous added in was always one of my go-to work lunches in the winter in NYC!

    I have a pair of five pound weights that got all but neglected during NYCM training. I can’t remember the last time I picked them up except to move them while cleaning my den. I’m pretty good about doing core work on my off running days, and a 20-minute yoga podcast about twice a week, though…

  • Anne Marie says:

    I feel the same way re: being pretty self-motivated when it comes to running… but I definitely need someone telling me exactly what to do for strength training. otherwise i just wander around the gym aimlessly and look lost and pathetic!
    ANYWAY, i just stumbled upon chicagorunnergirl’s blog and she has these two circuit training session postings that i am dying to try (and shes got some killer abs to show for it) :-)

  • Lauren says:

    Ugh yes! Strength training – so good for you, but so hard to get into. I’m happy to report that I’ve been sticking to my 2 x per week commitment. I usually have to drag my butt to the gym to do it, but find that once I’m actually there lifting, it’s not so bad. As long as I go with a routine in mind. If I have to make it up as I go, I just lose motivation and stop lifting early (and then hop on a treadmill instead).

    And I agree – I know that it will make me a better, stronger, runner, but I also admit that the vanity reasons are probably a greater motivation when it comes to actually sticking with it.

  • Strength training is definitely a challenge. I think unless you have as a specific plan for it as you do for running, then it’s always going to be more difficult to incorporate. Good luck on fitting it in! And you’re right–it will only make you a better runner :)

  • Karin says:

    I am the opposite — just starting to run and addicted to Core Fusion. I have started running to class to keep me outside instead of on the treadmill. That way I get my cardio and core workout in. Also, as a beginning runner, the thigh/butt exercises have really helped me prevent injury to my knees and running is a lot easier than it has been in the past.

  • Ali says:

    Love strength training. My favorite move is this:

    On an incline bench, set the back so it’s at a 45 degree angle. Seated with dumbbells in each hand, you alternate doing bicep curls on each side. Because you’re on an incline, you fire up your bicep muscles more than you do with regular curls.

    I swear, doing this one exercise (I do 4 sets of 25 reps on each side, alternating — it takes for-freaking-ever) once a week makes a difference in how my arms look.

  • Kelly says:

    I’ve always wanted to try that NYSC total body conditioning class! As far as strength, I like to think I keep up a good basic routine with core work, some lifting and leg stuff, but it’s nothing too crazy. I’ve just started experimenting with the exercise ball and that’s pretty interesting… I also consider yoga to be decent strength training – Bikram especially!

    Have you seen the sugar cookie sleigh ride tea? It is such deliciousness.

  • Nancy says:

    Thanks for the post Lindsay and thanks so much for the great ideas everyone! I will definitely be trying some of these ideas out over the next couple of weeks :) I too find strength classes really beneficial or else, I do not seem to push myself quite as hard. If I do go to the gym on my own to lift, I need to bring a plan with me or else I waste a lot of time wandering from one piece of equipment to the next trying to decide what I would like to do. I’m going to post on this topic later tonight :)

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  • Jessica says:

    The only form of strength training which also helps with my endurance are using leg weights when I run. Start out small, three pounds on each leg while running may not sound like a lot but you feel it sooner than later. Once you are comfortable, you add some more weight and keep running. When they come off, you’ll feel lighter and be much stronger.

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