If you’re an aerobic athlete (runner, swimmer, cyclist, triathlete) who’s reached a plateau, has found more miles does not translate into success and wonders if strength training might help - please read. I’m not offering a quick fix, food gimmick, shake, or simple trick. Over the last year I’ve ventured into a different way of getting to a goal – it may not be for everyone. But I have found an incredible payoff from it and embrace it.
It’s a few simple things
- Incorporate the right kind of strength training (read more in this blog) 2-4 times a week
- Cut back your miles for miles sake
- For your existing mileage look toward performance, speed and stamina
- Chart your progress over 12 months and see what happens!
Proof. Data. Trends. Statistics and data gathering can mislead and interpretation of results requires wisdom as well as raw analytic power. That clarification and limitation declared, I do think there’s enough evidence that a combination of Strength Training + Aerobic Training is far more powerful than Aerobic Training alone. Modify that aerobic training to focus on stamina, speed, flexibility and burst, and alongside the strength training, your results will be strong. Hone that further with improved nutrition and those strong results become powerful.
Two years ago, during one of my worst marathon experiences (4:52 at Twin Cities), I thought about punting it. Pack it up. Give it up. It was miserable weather day, but I had endured worse. It seemed though a goal of getting to Boston (or 1 hour and 22 minutes faster) was an impossible hope. Rather than give up I decided to push it harder. So in 2009 I ramped up the training. I knocked off a Pikes Peak Double and some “ok” marathon times (4:30 range). The price of that ramp up was high: a strained, torn sartorius tendon. By October of 2009 I was hobbling at the start of the Des Moines Marathon. Sure, lots of miles in the bank, toward 1,500 running for 2009. But hobbling still.
That began my entry into cross training – had done that in triathlon terms for several years. But serious cross training, or more properly strength training, nope, nada, avoided it.
P90x was Stage 1. It was perfect for torturing my aerobically fed and strength dead body into shape. All the Tony Horton’isms, pull ups, sneaky lunges, gut cracking ab routines, yoga twisting/humbling sessions and push ups a guy could hope for. I saw some nice results.
A chance encounter with a surly but dedicated athletic trainer, Mike Livergood, at Bellevue University in January of 2010 led to Stage 2 – CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance. Similar in many regards, the difference between the Beachbody DVD fed programming and organic CrossFit approach was significant. CrossFit is a better fit for my performance goals. Step by step, coaching from a great box and set of trainers at the Lincoln CrossFit box (Cole, Jeremy, Kelsey Phil and Tanya) and staying with it on my own have led to the best fitness base in my adult life.
Stage 3 involved extending a wonderful speed group of like minded, er like age, friends to a group of Freaky Fast Runners I had no business trying to chase. From June until present, this group has been an evolving network of fast people who have fun. Not quite the same every time, but always putting the hammer down for speed, hills or a Saturday run. Love you all!
So what does this mean? Big deal?
I’ve been blessed to achieve 15 year PR’s in 5 mile, 15k and marathon races. This has been my best year of racing since 1996-98. There’s been some learning curve and minor injuries: a hamstring pull in late May from performing too many deadlifts a day before a 5 mile race and calf pull in July as my body adapted to move towards a “pose” esque running style, lots of hills, etc. From beginning to end – I’ve been pleasantly surprised or more apropos, shocked!
While a 3 hour 30 minute marathon for Boston or a Full Ironman triathlon are not a sure thing, I can at least place those in the realm of possibility. I’ve been able to shave 24 minutes off my aerobicly training injected marathons of 2009, and now have only 37 minutes to go. The table below lists the results for marathons.
I’ve also cut 15lbs, from 176 to 161, increased muscle strength and burst across a variety of tests. My “vitamin I” (ibuprofen) fix has been cut dramatically (not pounding the body and actually strengthening muscles, ligaments and connective tissue). I am to do things I didn’t image possible – a kipping pull up, jumping up with confidence to a 8′ pull up bar height, over 250lbs for deadlift, 40 unbroken knees to elbows. This still a ton of other goals to still drive me; for example, why not try to attain the Navy Seal standard for 40-50 age males?
- In 2010 I will run 66% the amount of running miles compared to 2009 (1,000 to 1,500) with the same biking and swim miles. Total aerobic miles will nudge 1,550 to 1,600 versus 2,000 in 2010. New aerobic miles have been introduced through rowing.
- In 2010 that 66% running miles will have been done at much more efficient and faster pace.
- In 2010 my anaerobic training (CrossFit) will reach 140 Workouts Of the Day (WODs), not including the aerobic oriented WOD’s. Overall training hours will be the same as 2009.
|Route 66 Marathon – Tulsa
|Lincoln National Guard Marathon & Half-marathon 2010 – Run -Marathon
|Brookings Marathon – RUN – Marathon
|Lincoln Marathon – Run :: 26.2Mi
|Siouxland Marathon And Half Marathon – Marathon
|Scheels And Adidas Fargo Marathon, Half-Marathon & 5K – Marathon
|IMT Des Moines Marathon 2009 – Run*Marathon
|Lincoln National Guard Marathon & Half Marathon 2009 – Run -Marathon
|Go! St. Louis Marathon & Half Marathon 2008 – Run-Marathon
|Lincoln Marathon 2006 – RUN – MARATHON
|11Th Annual Gobbler Grind Marathon,Half-Marathon, 5K & Marathon Relay – 26.2Mi Run
|Oklahoma Marathon 2003
|Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon & Medtronic Tc 10 Mile 2008 – Run-Marathon
|Pensacola Marathon And Half Marathon – Marathon
|Community First Fox Cities Marathon
|Pikes Peak Marathon 2007
|Pikes Peak Ascent 2009 – Marathon
|Lincoln National Guard Marathon – 1995
|Lincoln National Guard Marathon – 1994
|Lincoln National Guard Marathon – 1996