Are You Strength Training the Right Way?

Winter running season is also known as off-season for most of us. We take a break from the heavy mileage, as least for a few weeks/months, and hit the weights and our favorite cross-training workouts.

Snow thanks, I'll spin.

Snow thanks, I’ll spin.

And hitting the weights should be your TOP priority during the off season. But are you doing it right?

I’m sore for 3 or 4 days after I lift. That’s good, right?

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Stop that right now. Soreness is due to microtears in the muscle fibers due to challenging the muscle either with more weight or a different movement. This is normally a good thing that allows for growth of the muscle. BUUUUUUUT, when normal soreness is 24-48 hours. After that, it’s not soreness, it’s muscular necrosis (dead tissue).

The danger of doing this? Rhabdomyolysis, which is basically poisoning your kidneys with the chemicals your dying tissue releases. Can permanently damage your kidneys and put you in the ICU.

DANGER Will Robinson.

Challenging your body is good, just don’t go overboard.

I strength train once a week. That’s enough.

No, it’s not. I’ve discussed de-training here before but it had more to do with aerobic capacity. Power and strength are a little different, but the bottom line is you need to strength train every 3-4 days (2-3 times/week) to make and maintain strength gains. Otherwise, it’s a brand new to your muscles every week.

Weights are your friend. Get to know them.

Weights are your friend. Get to know them.

I don’t lift heavy weights because it’s going to make me bulk up.

I can’t even with this. Every health and fitness magazine in the world has an article of why this isn’t true. I don’t need to belabor the point. It’s just true, ok?

I run. I don’t need to lift. Running makes my legs strong.

…said every runner who then ended up with an injury due to strength defects. Look, it’s all about strength, symmetry, and stability. Long distance running does not promote any of these things because it’s unidirectional and repetitive. Sprinting or hill workouts can definitely help, but you have to do them right.

Don't be this guy (Image courtesy of vector.rs)

Get strong before you go long.
(Image courtesy of vector.rs)

Focused, functional movements on multiple planes with challenging weights is how you get stronger.

I hope this helps as you head into your off season!

Now go out and run.

Holiday Gift Guide: What the Girls Want

I know, I know. You’ve seen ALL the gift guides in the whole world since Thanksgiving. Well, you haven’t seen mine and I bet there’s something on here even the pickiest of lady athletes would love to see under the tree.

Gear:

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  1. New Balance 890v4 are my new favs. Lightweight and so pretty! Size down 1/2 size for New Balance shoes from your normal Sauconys, Brooks, or Asics size.
  2. Camelbak Marathoner Vest for those long winter runs when the water fountains have been turned off (hello, Central Park).
  3. Fitbit Wireless Activity + Sleep Band is a great way to track your calories in and out. WARNING: ONLY BUY FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS ASKED FOR THIS.
  4. Trigger Point Grid Mini because who has space for a full roller?
  5. Oakley Pulse women’s sunglasses for the stylish runner.
  6. And my personal favorite, the Theracane massager for trigger point release when your partner isn’t around. This is seriously the best piece of recovery gear I own.

Fuel:

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  1. The Runner Box can be a one-time gift or a bi-monthly present for the runner always checking out new gadgets and fuel. ($20/bi-monthly)
  2. Picky Bars sample pack. Gluten & dairy-free and 100% vegan, I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love these. My favorite is the {newly christened} Blueberry Boomdizzle.
  3. Nuun Hydration tablets because water is soooo boring. People ask me how I stay hydrated when I train? BOOM. This is how.
  4. The StrideBox is another monthly subscription specific to runners, full of fuel and running gear. ($15/month)

And last, but not least, CLOTHES!!!!!!!

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  1. Sweaty Betty Stardust Run Tights because black is so boring.
  2. Lorna Jane Miranda Tank for those indoor sweatfests.
  3. lululemon Frisky Brisk Run Gloves are more substantial than the Brisk Run Gloves of seasons past. Great for cold runs.
  4. When I tell you every woman I know wants or has a pair of Oiselle Time Out Sweatpants, I am not exaggerating.
  5. I swear by a warm neck for winter running and the Sweaty Betty Expedition Neck Gaitor has you covered.
  6. Saucony’s Kinvara Dry Lete Hoody is the all-purpose pullover or base layer to keep you dry (and visible!) on those cold, dark runs.
  7. The lululemon Fluff Off Pullover is all you need when the temperatures dip below freezing. I promise.

What did I miss? What do you need this holiday season from Santa? Maybe some race bling from Erica Sara or a new way to display your race medals. If your lady works out at a boutique studio like Refine Method orFlywheel, a gift card is always a good way to go!

Happy shopping.

Now go out and run!

Secrets

When I first started running marathons, social media wasn’t around. I guess chat rooms were still kind of a thing (does anyone remember chat rooms?!?!) and social media may have been in its infancy but I was definitely not cool enough to be into it.

So when I started training for the NYC Marathon in 2003, I told everyone by email or word of mouth that I was running. That way, I couldn’t back out. Everyone would know. It was a great motivator to get my training in.

Me and my very first marathon medal the next morning. Yay!

I finished! It was torturous, but I finished.

Every year after that, as marathon season ramped up, people would ask, “Are you running?” It was always an enthusiastic “YES” from me. For 9 years, I would share my racing plans with everyone, often times raising money for charities close to my heart.

More recently, I’ve been keeping my big races to myself. I happily train without telling anyone when I’m racing. I don’t share my splits on Daily Mile. I don’t share my runs and progress on Twitter. As much support as the cyber world can offer during training, there is also a lot of pressure that goes along with it.

The Hamptons Marathon (that became a half marathon for me) was a secret race.

The Hamptons Marathon (that became a half marathon for me) was a secret race.

Perfect strangers can track you online during a race and when people know your goals, they also know when you’ve failed to reach them. It sounds silly, but the goals I set for myself are very personal and I prefer to keep some of them private.

When I decided to train secretly (or just less publicly?) for the Hamptons Marathon this past Fall, I was unsure how my post-op body would respond.

From colostomy bag to J-pouch, my little body has been through the wringer.

From colostomy bag to J-pouch, my little body has been through the wringer.

Would my J-pouch hold up? Would I get sick again? Could I really get all that mileage in less than a year after two major surgeries? I signed up for the full marathon, knowing full well that I might need to drop down to the half.

I decided to keep the race (largely) a secret and see how training went.

Clearly, I was happy with my choice to drop down.

Clearly, I was happy with my choice to drop down.

I knew a few weeks before that this was probably going to be the case and I was oddly at peace with it. Because despite the 65 mile weeks, grueling summer workouts, and faster than ever times, I knew what I could do and what I couldn’t do. The half I could do, the full I could not.

It’s not that I’m afraid to publicly fail. I’ve done that plenty of times. It’s just that as I test myself and try new things, I prefer keeping those personal goals tucked close to my heart.

Close to my heart like my Peanut.

Close to my heart, like my Peanut.

Have you ever run a race and not told anyone you were training for it? Or do you prefer to get the support of your friends near and far during training? It’s totally a personal choice and I’m curious if anyone else has switched back and forth like me. Or maybe I’m just crazy…?

Now go out and run!