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

Get strong before you go long.
(Image courtesy of

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.

10 thoughts on “Are You Strength Training the Right Way?

  1. I always feel like I learn so much from your posts. There are so many bloggers out there who don’t really know what they are talking about but put info on their blogs anyway. I like that I know what you publish is true and based on what you are learning in school. I’d love to hear some of your favorite strength moves!

    • Thank you so much for the compliment, Shannon–and for reading! I hope to be able to get some pictures together for my favorite new moves soon.

  2. My half Ironman training cycle begins in a few days, and I’m struggling to figure out the best way to incorporate strength into my week. I want to be able to get 3 workouts of each disciple each day, plus 3 days of strength and an off day. Any suggestions on the best way to incorporate strength into tri training?

    • Jocelyn-I usually recommend that the strength portion of training happen before you begin training for the event. However, once you are in season for training, definitely taper your strength training down to 2 days a week. Best to do them on a double day after an easier workout. Definitely not after a Brick or a crazy long run. Hope this helps!

  3. Such a smart post, Abby! I’m training for my first half and make it a priority to fit in 2 or 3 strength training sessions per week. Do you prefer to take group classes or to strength train on your own? – NYC Fitness & Lifestyle Blog

    • Evann-I love training with a small group at Refine Method here in the city. But I do my Maintenance Leg day on my own. So much fun to get a great workout with friends! How bout you?

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