Lets face it folks, most runners have a weird fear of hitting the weights. Endurance athletes often assume that lifting weights is only for “sprinters” for “bodybuilders”. As a former collegiate long distance runner, I can tell you this couldn’t be farther from the truth. To be successful in any endurance event, you need to be strong as well as fast; When trained appropriately a good strength and conditioning program will accomplish just that.
- It’s a guy thing/Strength training is not for women. Look at all the great female athletes. They are ALL heavily involved in a regular strength and conditioning program. If you are training for a race, or are running for fun you need to be hitting the weights at some level. In the past, access to advanced level programming and coaching was reserved for the best of the best in professional or collegiate athletics. Not so anymore. If you are a little intimidated by barbells or big box gyms, try your local CrossFit gym. The community in these gyms are amazing at helping and nurturing those who are new to the weight lifting world. A good CrossFit affiliate will offer a comprehensive, introduction “Foundational” month to teach new movements and ease newbies into the intensity typically seen in a CrossFit workout of the day (WOD).
- Light weights are all you need. The fastest runner is the most efficient runner. The only way to maintain an efficient gait, particularly for longer runs, is having the core strength necessary to maintain the most efficient, and thus proper biomechanics. To be able to accomplish this, you need to develop a strong foundation of core strength. Lifting “light weights” does not tax the muscles enough to elicit the necessary change we are all looking for. Utilizing compound movements like the squat and deadlift are the fastest and best ways to add core strength. Start with 5 sets of 5 once a week and progress from there.
- It’ll turn you into a hulk. Lets get the record straight about this fear ladies (I’m assuming this is a female hang-up as I’ve never met a dude worried about turning into the Hulk). 98% percent of women are physiologically incapable of building muscle to the degree where they would be considered ‘bulky.’ (made up number but im sure its prob close haha). It is simply a function of estrogen and lack of testosterone. The reality behind those bodybuilders or competitive CrossFit women is that they are putting in 2-4 hours a day in weight training in addition to taking a heap of supplements (including you guessed it steroids) to get the size, development, recovery they desire. You will never build muscle like a man…because you are a woman. Instead, you’ll create firm, feminine curves—especially doing HIIT workouts like CrossFit. The less you stop between exercises, the more calories you burn, creating that lean, sculpted look.
- Strength training will make me less flexible. Any good strength and conditioning program will incorporate mobility work +/-myofacial release techniques with every workout. In fact, just moving through FULL range of motion (ROM), the natural way your body should move, will promote increased mobility. For example, if you have issues with squatting “low” (hip crease below knee level), every attempt to get to your end range will over the long run, improve your ROM.
- Muscle turns to fat if you stop lifting weights. This is a misconception supported by many examples of former elite athletes and body builders who have gotten fat after they retire or stopped working out. But this conclusion mistakes coincidence with causality. Muscle can no more turn into fat than lead can turn into gold. Muscle and fat are two different types of tissue. But if you get in the habit of eating more to support the extra calorie burn that strength training provides and then fail to dial back the eating when you stop strength training, those extra calories will be stored as fat, not because you stopped strength training, but because you’re taking in more calories than you are using.
- Strength training will take up too much of my time. For the average person, a mere 3 hours a week, can get you amazing results. Again, I hate to sound like a broken record, but CrossFit as a GPP (general physical preparedness) model is great. For the fraction of the price of personal trainer, you get to walk into your local CrossFit gym, and your daily workout AND longterm programming is already done. This doesn’t even account that you still get the personalized and instantaneous feedback from your CrossFit coach that guides you through your workout. The hardest part is just showing up!!