Disclaimer: I received a free set of free weights and kettlebell from Rep Fitness Equipment in exchange for an open and honest review. Thanks! Hello again! Today, I wanted to press pause on all of the running and speedwork talk and switch gears for a minute to talk about strength training.
Possibly my favorite throwback pic of all time.
It was a tiny little room crammed with machines that was always PACKED when the track team shuffled in to do our workouts. I was not a fan. It always seemed relatively pointless and boring. I didn’t see how any of it was going to make me faster on the track. Running hill repeats made sense to me, as painful as those were. Calf raises and squats? Sure didn’t seem like those were doing much.
I’m pretty sure I rushed through the exercises (probably with horrible form) so that I could get out of practice early. Needless to say, when I got back into running on my own in college, weight training was never part of the agenda. I’d happily run my miles, shower, and take off for class – no stretching or pre-hab of any kind.
Fast forward a few years, and I started working with my coach, Mary the genius behind Lift Run Perform. Mary has always preached to me the importance behind strength training for injury prevention in running. The fact is, all of us have imbalances in our bodies. All of the pounding we put on our bodies by running high mileage adds up and often leads to problems down the road.
My most recent injuries are a testament to just how true this is. First with the Achilles tendonitis – probably the result of imbalances in my calf muscles. Now my physical therapist has me doing all these variations of heel raises to work on creating truly bullet-proof calves. And I can already tell it’s working – my tendonitis is essentially gone (after lingering for MONTHS.)
Eeked out a small half marathon PR… and a case of Achilles tendonitis.
Then there was the hamstring strain. This one was pretty unfortunate in that I was actually trying to work on strengthening my hamstrings when I hurt myself. I was doing some hamstring curls with an exercise ball when I felt the muscle tweak and immediately stopped. A few days later, doing speedwork in the Rock n Roll Montreal Half, it gave way, turning into a very painful strain.
It’s becoming very clear to me that to train at the level that I want to, I HAVE to put in some work outside of running miles. That’s why I was so excited when Rep Fitness reached out to me. I have slowly been working on building my own little home gym so that I have no excuse to skip strength training. I love the free weights and kettlebell they sent me. I opted for 10 lb weights – versatile enough to use on a variety of different exercises and a 25-lb kettlebell (which strangely enough I’ve started referring to as Big Bertha in my head.)
- Exercise mat
- Set of lower weight dumbbells (you’d be surprised at how hard some exercises can be only using 5 lbs!)
- Resistance bands
As my hammie recovers, I’m looking forward to using my kettlebell in some deadlifts and squats to really get to work on strengthening my hamstrings and preventing future strains. With the addition of my new free weights, I’ve already gotten back into doing some of my favorite Fitnessblender videos – Tank Top Arms Round 1 and Round 2.
I think it’s important to remember you don’t need to have an expensive gym membership to be able to strength train (especially if you are the type of person who has difficulty motivating yourself to get out the door and actually go to the gym). Choose a few key pieces of equipment and utilize resources on the internet (TRUSTED RESOURCES – not just any old website) to learn about correct form and various exercises.
Do you strength train? What’s been your worst running injury?