If I could write a letter to my younger self and give myself some coaching advice it would probably go something like this:
Dear 20-something Alexia,
I know you really hate to lift weights, but you need to. I promise you it won’t make you huge. In fact, you’ll look better than if you only run. And you know that nagging hamstring injury and runner’s knee, if you do some strength training and continue to follow the exercises from the physical therapist, you might be able to completely heal. Ice your legs when they need it and use your foam roller. It doesn’t take that long.
Sincerely, your future 30-something self
Knowing my stubborn
younger self, she I wouldn’t have listened.
Well live and learn. Here I am now in my 30s and I still have that nagging hamstring injury – more of weak spot than an injury these days. Still, I’m trying to correct the destruction I did in my 20s when I had no regard for injury prevention or proper recovery. So when I came across this workout, Strength Training Circuit for Distance Runners, from competitor magazine I thought it was just the one for me to try.
While a consistent running regimen will do a great job of strengthening your legs and lungs, it won’t do much for many of the muscles in the rest of your body. A basic 30 to 45 minute strength-training session once or twice a week will improve overall body balance and help lessen the likelihood of an overuse injury. No need to get fancy: your own body weight, a set of dumbbells, and a stability ball will do the trick. Non-running days during the base building phase of your training are an ideal time to incorporate some strength training into your weekly routine. –Competitor, Strength Training Circuit for Distance Runners
So far this workout was singing my song…I’m all about injury prevention and having balanced muscle groups. Competitor says to start with one circuit and work your way up to 3 sets.
The original workout was simple and used a limited amount of equipment. However, I still had to make adjustments because I didn’t have a few things. Here is a side-by-side comparison:
The ones highlighted in pink are the ones that I swapped out (or added to) because of missing equipment or personal preference. Here are explanations on the swapped out exercises:
1. Arnold Press – I have an over the doorway pull-up bar but right now there is no place for it. I was looking for an exercise that worked back and shoulders and decided on the Arnold Press. Could probably do a military press here if you are pull-up bar-less like me.
2. Single Leg Deadlifts with Reverse Fly – I like to add the fly to the single leg deadlifts because it works two sets of muscle groups at the same time giving it an extra challenge. It also gives you a little bit of extra balance having your arms out to the side. Plus since I hadn’t done pull-ups I wanted to add an extra upper body exercise. Example Video.
3. Nordic Hamstring Curls – Recent research has shown this “new” exercise to be key in long-term hamstring injury prevention. You need to watch the video on this one. In it she explains, how this is an eccentric exercise and how you build up from weekly from 3-5 reps for 2 sets to 6 reps for 3 sets. Seriously, watch the video!
How I did it: I just wedged my feet under a heavy bench we have and had my daughter sit on it plus some 30 lb dumbbells. Just as good as having someone hold your feet. I don’t have a stability ball so I needed an alternate, but even if I did have the stability ball, I think I’d pick the Nordic Hamstring Curl.
4. Bicep Curls – I felt like in order to have a complete workout I needed to incorporate some bicep focused exercise, especially since they had triceps already in the original workout. I’m looking for balanced muscle groups. I think this is an important add in if you don’t do the pull-ups.
5. Glute Bridge with Tricep Extension – Tricep dips lock up my arms and put too much strain on my wrists. I thought I’d work the glutes at the same time.
I really tried to stay true to the original workout. My abs were quivering doing the push-ups and plank matrices back to back. And my legs were a little shaky going from burpees to squats. I think adding in the reverse flies and the bicep curls really compensates for not doing the pull-ups from the original workout.
I enjoyed the sequence and felt like I got a decent workout in. I’ve done it twice in the past week. The first time I did it 3 times through and did not do the Nordic Hamstring Curl. I was not ready for 3 times, hence, the slow run this week. The second time I did it once through and went for a 3 mile non-picture run afterwards -really more of a light jog. I plan on doing the workout twice through next week. I might add in some rows or other back/core work; maybe bump up the push-up reps.
What do you think of my substitutions? Would you do the same?