Monday, 27 July 2009

Faster running following strength training

How do you balance weight training with running if you want to be a faster runner? Surely, if you want to run faster, then it's better to spend time running than time doing weight training? And if anything, weight training could cause you to gain weight and slow you down?

Well that's what I've been thinking for a long time now, and the reasons that the vast majority of my exercise for probably 5 years or so has been cardio - either running or cycling - and very little weights work.

As people who have been reading this blog will know, however, I have been doing a really fun bodyweight routine while I was on holiday (sadly I'm now back to the London greyness...). The routine was put together by Craig Ballantyne of Turbulence Training.

The 'rules' of the routine say that I shouldn't do the workout on consecutive days, but one day last week (the day after an intermediate bodyweight circuit) I was anxious to do something, so put on my trainers and went out for a 4k run which is definitely my most common run when I run in Sweden.

My normal time for the run is around 23 to 24 minutes depending on how much I'd been training. As I hadn't run since the Samrun 10k race, which was over 3 weeks ago, I wasn't expecting much. However, I came back in 22 minutes and 49 seconds, only 8 seconds slower than my personal best time which I set last year!

So how did this come about? Well it cetainly didn't 'feel' that I was running towards a (close) PB, but I just felt more 'solid' particularly in my hips. It felt that more of my energy was going into my legs, and they were pushing between the ground and a relatively stable pelvis, whereas previously it felt more like my pelvis would collapse a little on every foot strike.

There are a number of exercises in the turbulence training bodyweight workout which could have had this impact. One of the key things in the workout, however, is because everything is done with the absolute minimum of equipment, there is a lot of emphasis put on balance and compound movements, all of which have seemed to stabilise my pelvis and led to this improvement in running times.

What this has taught me, however, is that I really should be incorporating some strength work into each and every week in my training if I'm hoping to be able to get quicker. I'm even wondering whether this was the 'missing link' which was stopping me from getting my 5k time down to below 29 minutes? We'll see!

How much do you use weight training in your running training programme? Let me know by posting a comment!


Anonymous said...

Hey Dude
I'm a Freshman in HS and we are a veerrry small school and we had 5 hs girls running so i had to run varsity. we ran 4k and my PB was 20:53 and that was at distrects but in earler races, I know what you mean by you just feel limp and weak, i had that feeling all through out practice i told my coach and thing that strenghted me was using all body weight the only thing I used was a bar with 10lbs. while doing squats other than that it was lunges,squats,situps,pushups,pull ups, planks. Core work outs are key and help so much and working your arms make it so on hills your able to swing your arms faster and harder so you go faster