Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

It’s been a quiet month for me as far as running goes – but I’m happy about that! After my excellent 5K at the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line, I thought I’d be itching to get back on the pavement to see how much better I could get! But the day after the race I took off on a rocky cruise vacation where running was all but impossible without Dramamine (damn my inner ear imbalance!), so I focused on strength training instead.

photo 1Roses are red, poems are hard, go to the gym and squat.

When we returned I was happy to hit the bricks again, and maintained that 11-15 mile a week average that I stick to in the non-training months. But I also really liked the feeling I had after my strength training workouts! So in addition to running, I added a few more strength sessions into the rotation each week, working up to 3-4x.

I know I’m stating the obvious when I say this, but all of that strength training has got me feeling super strong! I’m so pleased at how easy it’s become to open the heavy-ass door of my office building every morning, and how little energy it takes to haul multiple grocery bags anymore. But the best part is how great it’s got my knees feeling! That pinchy twinge I get when I try to squat or bend has all but disappeared! Stairs in heels don’t need to be taken one at a time, because my quads are finally (FINALLY!) starting to get that old strength back.

ACL surgery was an eye opening experience, and I’m amazed to see that it’s still teaching me things almost 2 years later. Yes: recovery was hard work – going from 20-ish miles a week to *nothing* for 3 months will seriously kill your strength. But it’s just the bare minimum. Once they get you back up on two legs and release you into the wild, you need to do some serious pushing on your own!
photo 2
In the 2 years since my surgery, without that doctor telling me to do my clamshells every day or the therapist urging me to try one more flight of stairs, I got – for lack of a better word – lazy! I thought “OK, I’m out of therapy, I’m ready to go!” and I jumped right back into running. Sure, I was vaguely aware of the need to incorporate strength training into my routine, but dammit, self-motivation is hard! Especially when my knees were killing me all the time from the rapidly increased mileage.
YES, hindsight is 20/20, and I realize NOW that my knees were achy because I let the weights collect dust, but you live and you learn.
The moral of the story is I’m happy to report that I’m finally feeling more balanced in my fitness routine – without something to train for, I’ve been able to take a break from the stressful “must get the miles in!” anxiety and really focus on strength, and I’m loving every minute of it. How about you? How many days do you strength train when you’re training vs. off-schedule? Let’s compare notes!

8 thoughts on “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

  1. Kudos to you on the strength training! It’s something I kinda despise doing so unless I’m going to a class, I don’t have enough motivation for myself. I did yoga twice a week in the beginning of my marathon training cycle, but I stopped because it was hard to keep fitting it in my schedule (and to pay for!) with my increased running plans. I feel like strength is something I need to add back into my schedule though in my off-season coming up so that it becomes a priority again. You should write a post about what you do for your strength workouts – I’d love to hear about it!

    • Thank you so much! I totally agree – classes are the ultimate for when you don’t have the oof to get moving on your own. When I first started out that was all I did! Kickboxing, lifting, yoga classes – if they locked us in a room for an hour, I’d do it! I’m thinking I want to get back into that again, you remind me of how fun it was!
      And as for the strength training post, that’s a good idea! I’ll have to write everything down – I usually just wing it until my legs shake and call it a day, lol… but there’s some rhyme and reason to it! 😉

  2. You still inspire me! It’s tough to gain muscle when I run so much. So I’m kind of taking it wast this week and next because my calf has been messed up since my 1/2. During training for the half I only ran 3 days a week and hit weights 2-3 days a week. My running approved so much since my torn hamstring. I think this help me a lot. I have dreams of being super fast, but also have dreams of being a lean mean machine!

    • It’s so true, strength training helps our running immensely! it’s just so hard to fit it into the training calendar. But we make due!
      And PS – I’m pretty sure you’ve got both of those things down pat, my friend! Super speedy *and* lean, you’ve got the best of both worlds going on lady! 😉 ❤

  3. I will definitely be doing more strength training over the next several weeks as I wait for my mysterious foot injury to heal. Like Charissa, I have a hard time motivating myself to do it alone, so I’m hoping to hit up some Body Pump classes. I also really like to do squats at home, because I can do them any time (while dinner is cooking, watching TV etc).

      • I haven’t gone to a class yet–they’re at a sort of weird time that would require me hanging around and waiting for a while after work, and usually I just get bored and do something else instead of waiting. I need to just suck it up and go!

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