I’m A Newbie Runner: Strength Training (I’m Back!)

Wow! It’s been quite a weekend for me. Thanks for being so cool about my taking some time off to study, everybody. Also, welcome to the readers brought over from Ali On the Run! I hope you get something out of my humble little blog (I’ll explain this at the end).

Now let’s get down to business.

Runners are well-known haters of the gym. I get it. It’s super boring to be indoors on a beautiful day, repeating the same exercise over and over and over again. Plus, you just don’t get that “runner’s high” from lifting. Boo-hoo. You have to do it! (or start doing it now!!!)

Image courtesy of afitnessequipment.com




Want to know why? Because it will make you stronger, faster and help prevent injuries. It also helps to lean you out and keep your weight in check. And all the pro’s do it. Kara Goucher: “I do a lot of weight lifting”, Paula Radcliffe does “an hour-long session of core strength exercises” during her 8-day training cycle, and Ryan Hall blogged about his own weight lifting routine. These world-class runners must be getting something right, don’t you think?

How much strength training should you be doing?

-Strength train 1 time for every 2 cardio workouts. That means if you are running/cycling/spinning/walking 4 times a week, you need to have 2 strength training workouts every week (about 30-45 mintues each) AND IT MUST INCLUDE A LEG WORKOUT (don’t be a wimp).


-Strength training can be a boot camp class, a muscle sculpt class, yoga (vinyasa or ashtanga), classic weight-lifting, plyometrics, pilates (reformer or cadillac) or any other form of activity where you perform anaerobic movements that max out the strength and stability of your muscles, ligaments and tendons of both your upper and lower body.

Most gyms offer at least one personal training session with a membership, so ask for a trainer who works with runners. Better yet, get with a trainer you know works specifically with runners to build a plan you can follow. Also, check out the my favorite exercises for all your strength-training needs.

When should you do your strength training?

-If you are doing it on a day when you are also running, run first. Your form might suffer after being fatigued if you’ve just finished a leg workout and having tired legs is no way to achieve a great tempo run. Doubling them up is A-ok, but think “run first!” I’m a big run-to-yoga-class girl.

I do yoga outside sometimes with 600 of my closest friends

-If it’s an off day for running, you can do it whenever. Just make sure you’re still taking rest days to recover from all the amazing training you are doing (at least one a week).
Contrary to wishful thinking popular belief, running doesn’t strengthen your legs, lifting does. I will not go into all the mechanics of it, but just trust me on this. If you don’t strength train (sometimes called cross-training), you will never reach your full potential as a runner.

Ready for my tangent? A weird thing happened here while I was away: my little blog was read by a whole lotta people! Here’s the story.

My favorite running store here in NYC, JackRabbit Sports is having a competition between 6 contestants to see who can raise the most money for their respective charities while training for the Hamptons Marathon in September. Cool, right? It’s called Run For the Rabbit. Given my history of running marathons for Fisher House Foundation, I initially considered entering myself, but I figured that with two summer school courses, the GRE’s, work, several baby showers, Fall marathon training and my recent hideous performance at the Jersey Shore Marathon during a colitis flare-up, I’d best not add anything else to my plate this summer. It was kismet that JackRabbit chose to follow Ali on her journey to the Hamptons Marathon because Ali has Chron’s disease, the sister to colitis, and she’s running to raise money for the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation of America. She’s running for me, too! So, being the crazy cheerleader I am, I “liked” her Facebook page, donated to the foundation via her Run For the Rabbit page (you should, too!) and started following her very entertaining blog. I couldn’t help myself.

On Friday night, JB and I took a walk uptown to 16 Handles to get a little fro-yo treat and ran into Ali (I actually run into old college friends and my extended family all the time–I ♥ NY). Eeeek! I was a total geek and definitely overshared, but it was soooo great to finally meet another person with IBD who is young, fabulous and a runner! I wanted to hug Ali (I did) and cry (I did not) because she’s running for all of us out there who have IBD and that is amazing to me. I totally fangirled her and, apparently, didn’t scare her away too much because she blogged about our meeting and then my little site exploded. Ali is popular. I am new 🙂 Thanks for the shout-out!

So fun!

Now go out and run! (unless you are Ali…didn’t we talk about rest days?)

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays & Exercises To Do This Week!

My Dad, Obi-wan, has always said about whatever is going on in his or our lives that, “It’s better than the alternative.” It is, isn’t it? I mean, when you take a look at things going awry in your life, you gotta admit that whatever it is that’s getting you down, you’re still here and that’s better than the alternative. So, here we are on “Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays” where I share what I’m loving about life this week. Today, it’s New York City.

My back yard!

I’ve been having a love affair with the Big Apple for going on nine years now. I can’t get enough of everything this little island has to offer. Specifically, THIS is my back yard, my track, my playground. How lucky am I that I don’t also have to mow it? Central Park is the reason why a midwestern gal like me can continue to live in a bustling metropolis. I’d be lost without the beautiful parks in the city. The magical season of Cherry Blossom trees is reason alone to live in New York City. What can I say? I’m smitten!

These amazing trees EXPLODE every spring

Now, onto the exercises of the day! The deeply fabulous LB modeled some moves just for you all this morning during her 6:30AM workout.

*As always, consult a physician before starting any exercise program. Stop immediately if you feel faint, dizzy, nauseous or otherwise unwell. These exercises are not for everyone, consult a fitness professional for proper technique and form*

1. Standing lunges. I like walking lunges just as much as the next person, but proper form can be a challenge to maintain with so many moving parts. Oh, and for all you runners out there (and anyone else who may desire some lift in your behind), this is an amazing glute strengthener! My physical therapist prescribed these for me when I strained my gluteus medius (ouch) to beef up my rump!







Stand with one leg forward and one leg back. Be sure your feet are hips-width apart and your back heel is high to the sky. Slowly lower your knee to the ground, staying tall with your chest, until both knees are at 90 degrees. Be careful that your front knee doesn’t jut out in front of your toes. Push through your front heel back to standing, both legs completely straight. Rinse. Repeat. 12-15 reps each leg for 3 sets.

2. Reverse abdominal roll-ins. A favorite among my clients. Ok, I lied, the are actually my favorite and not always the most-requested exercise, but a very effective one nonetheless! The most important thing about this exercise is to control the motion and not get carried away with speed and momentum. If done slowly, you will feel your abdominals supporting and balancing your every move.







Start in a plank (shoulders over your wrists, straight arms) with your knees/shins on the physio ball. Draw your knees toward your chest while lifting your rear end toward the sky. The lifting part is reeeeally important so that it’s an abdominal exercise and you’re not just flailing around on the ball. Gently and slowly roll your body out until you’re straight again. The slower you go, the harder more effective it is! Repeat 8-10 times, 2-3 sets. This one can get tough on the wrists if you have even the slightest hint of carpal tunnel, so skip it if anything starts to hurt.

There you go! Round of applause for LB, who wanted me to tell all of you how much she loves this particular lululemon tank top. It’s not in the stores anymore, but the Light Up Tank is very similar and is both in stores and online. Now, go for a run and then hit the gym with these fabulous exercises for a stronger body. Just a reminder that the Lululemon Run Club will be guiding the Achilles Track Club through a run/walk workout in the park tonight at 6pm. Meet at the Engineer’s Gate in Central Park.

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone! What are you doing to celebrate the day?