Trail Running Factory clients usually have heart attacks and numerous excuses when I ask them to visit gym for body strengthening exercises, as they panically believe that they will become Ms and Mr Universe after even one try.
Runners are not bodybuilders, so why the hell I am punishing them hard and sending to those labour camps. There are already numerous studies, which confirms that acquired strength in those iron prisons heavily contributes to injury prevention and though without proper training plan runners can still run themselves into dust, getting more power will help to be less injury prone, healthier and more constant on the trails. Moreover, strength training helps with running performance, as speed and running economy improve, because neuromuscular adaptations occur. I bet, right now you are taking it more seriously, but if even now you are still reluctant to put some time into this monotonous routine, try to change it and have as much diversity and fun as possible. Kill boredom and become more efficient runner by not running at all:
- Vary exercises.
Could you imagine if you practice just only one type of running instead of five existing? What kind of improvements would you expect to happen? So, don’t stick to the same exercises, which you have been doing for ages, rather explore and try something new that activate same muscle groups. You even be positively surprised that exists more than five exercises overall, which makes running kind of “extremely boring”.
- Vary repetitions & weights.
4-6 & 10-15 repetitions are equally great enough to make adaptations on neuromuscular function and strength gain. Using different weights will make the task easier by simply helping find out the proper balance between sustainable, perceived effort and repetitions. Do rate of perceived exertion (RPE’s) ring any bells? It should, as the best running measuring is done by RPE’s as well. Once again, strength training is not the rocket science and seems that fundamental principals are really close to all beloved running.
- Vary intensity.
Do you still remember all types of running, which involves different engines and distinct muscle fibres? This is exactly what you have to implement in weight rooms as well. Make those fibres fire at various levels of intensity, feel how lungs are burning and your mouth sinking with blood, while next time take it easy and even “smoke cigarette” while pumping the blood through your veins. Seriously, go for fast to moderate speed for concentric exercises and slow down for eccentric ones.
- Vary “strength schools”.
Are you currently working with CrossFit coach? What if you try TRX bands, Pilates machines and just simply jump from progressive plyometric training to progressive resistance training. Worth to consider, right?
- Vary motion range.
Let your body be universal and develop full range of motion. Currently there is no solid research done, what angle would be the best for runners. So don’t wait for papers to be written just do all them, as 90°, 45° or 20° movements do the trick.
- Vary surface.
Flat is boring! Make sure your gym is much alike to trails, as possible, because running is one leg sport, so try to implement exercises standing on one leg or balancing on bosu half ball. For those who are brave enough and have health & death insurance yoga ball could be an option.
- Vary handgrip and / or foot position.
While exercising, change your usual hand and / or feet position to wider and / or narrow one and try reverse or vertical grip, instead of horizontal one, which mimics grip of tracking poles. Those slight adjustments will definitely force you to feel some tension in areas, which you didn’t know could possible exist.
- Vary rest.
Shorten, prolong or even skip rest brakes between exercises, sets or repetitions that you are accustomed to.
- Vary tools.
Barbells & dumbbells are common practice, but what about introduction of medicine balls, resistance bands or just simply body weight routine on pull bar or gymnastic rings. If want to be more wild and natural go for woodsman workout with stones, logs and axes. There are many weight tools available around you, just have to be creative one and follow Rocky mind-set to be successful one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q57qB6Kwroo
- Vary muscles involved.
It is true that runners need strong core & legs and this is why you have been following this “diet” for ages, but what about upper body and type of muscles involved? Have you ever heard about superficial, intermediate and deep muscles? if not, it is about right time to go and google it. Become Ms & Mr Universe and age healthy while still running. Pump some iron in!