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Posts Tagged ‘weight training’

Weight Lifting for Trail Running

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Weight lifting is very important for trail runners to help avoid injury.  The stronger your body is, the better equipped it will be to take on the uneven terrain it impacts on finite parts.  So for trail running specific weight training, it is best to focus on the lower body.  Upper body weight training is more for long distance running.  So if you are running long distances and on trails then you’ve got double the weight training to do.  It’s cool, you’ll get the overtime results.

When weight training for trail running you want to focus on strength, power, and balance.  Don’t be like Saddam Hussein squats-for-trail-runningand  only have 2 out of the 3 attributes, trust me, it won’t end well.  Start with squats to strengthen your thighs, hips, buttocks, and hamstring.  Don’t lift a lot of weight even though you may be able to.  Grunting and throwing down your weights isn’t cool, likewise, kicking them  like your in the movie, ‘The Program’ is pretty lame.  Squat your body weight.  If you want to avoid squats try the leg press but again, although it may be tempting to your ego, don’t put excess weight on.  Another way to exercise similar to squats is to hold two dumbells to your side and practice lunges.  This gives you the benefit of isolating one leg at a time, much like your body will encounter on the trail as you pivot and stretch to the next safe step.  You can also do single leg squats on the Smith machine if available.  These exercises improve your ability to vary your steps on the trail without straining your glutes, quads, or hamstring.hamstring-curl-for-trail-running

The next exercise you should do to get specific exercise is the hamstring curl.  To the left you can see it being done on a machine.  If you are not at a gym you can lay flat on your stomach and lift your muddy trail running shoes for extra weight in the same manner as the picture.  This exercise will improve your breaking ability when trail running downhill.  However I don’t recommend breaking when trail running downhill.

Another important area to improve for trail running with weight training is your ankles.  Grab some ankle weights or wrap a flexible weight around one ankle.  Then rotate your foot from side to side, in a circle, or do the alphabet.  You know the alphabet motion.  Do this exercise one ankle at a time to prepare your pivot points for single impacts on the trail.

Another great work out for the trail is calf raises.  Use the machine at your gym or stand up repeatedly like your in the back of a group trying to get into the picture.  This will help in your uphill trail running as you dig each step closer to the top.  Although it may be tempting, avoid adding too much weight.  You want to focus on more reps to run up the long hill not carry furniture up stairs.  It is important to stretch before and after calf raises because calves tend to get tighter than other muscles.

Even though your lower body is taken care of don’t forget to work your core and back, both are important as you pivot your upper body down the singletracks of the trail.  Remember, you don’t have to look like a trail runner to be a trail runner.  Don’t feel sorry for yourself, bulk up!

Weight Training for Running

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Weight Training is important for all types of runners, even distance runners.  I’m taking some time off distance running due to an injury, but I’m not taking time off of getting my running body in the best possible shape.  Look out dumbbells!

weight-lifting-for-runners

In order to begin weight training for distance running you first need to decide on what parts of your body you want to focus on.  Upper back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, chest, hamstrings, calves; whatever, they all can help improve your distance running.  Once you decide which areas of your body you want to work on, you need to make a plan, just like your training plan for running.  This can be as detailed as how many reps you do at a certain weight on every exercise or as simple as keeping track mentally of what muscle groups you work out during each session.

For a novice weight lifter there are a couple of important things you should know before starting to weight train.  First is to maintain the proper mechanics to maximize your work out and not injury yourself.  If you aren’t sure how to do an exercise and an example is not posted in the gym, don’t attempt it.  While resting, watch other weight lifters to see how to properly do each exercise.  Just don’t stare too long or they might get offended.

Also while resting, rest.  Resting and recovery are very important for weight lifting.  Unlike running, when weight lifting you are able to rest some body parts while working others.  For instance, you can work out your upper body one day, then your lower body the next day to give your muscles some rest.  When lifting weights you make small micro tears in your muscles which increase strength but need time to heal.  The variety is also good for your muscles.  You need to make sure you change the exercises and weight in order  make micro tears in different muscles and keep your body guessing.  It’s tough to trick muscles, they have ‘muscle memory.’

For long distance runners it is best to lift lower weight with a lot of reps.  That doesn’t mean play around with a bunch of five pounders in front of everyone at the gym.  If you’re going to do that then just stay home.  Exercises such as 4 sets of 10 reps are usually perfect to give you endurance and the strength base you need.  You should be out of breath and not able to lift anymore by your last rep.  As a runner, you want to have muscle balance by working out every part of your body.  When lifting weights I like to put my main focus on the upper body because my lower body gets a good work out from running (when not injured).  I’ll write about specific exercises later…now that I got your all excited about lifting weights.

Lifting weights can really help you get into maximum running endurance and improve your overall body shape.  You may be a long distance runner, but you don’t have to look like one!

GNC Amplified Maxertion N.O. Supplement

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

I normally don’t take supplements, how can you supplement someone who already has everything?  Not very easily.  However, I have taken supplements before.  When I was deployed to Iraq I drank a protein shake everyday and it definitely increased my body mass.  I accomplished my goal of the deployment, being able to bench press 300 pounds.  I even named my weightlifting activities as a phase of “Operation Get Sexy” which I began about 2 months before returning home.  Probably the most successful operation of the whole deployment.  Note:  The haircut in the picture below was not a part of “Operation Get Sexy.”

two-army-men-with-tops-off

Since then I’ve been running more and lifting less weights, but still lifting 5 days a week, 5 different exercises, with high reps and lightweight.  This is the best type of weight training for a long distance runner.  You want to have a strong upper body to help you pump your arms at the finish line, but you don’t want to put on too much extra muscle mass to carry while running long distances.  GNC just came out with a new product line called AMP.  They boast being good for the heavy weight lifter to the avid runner.  I chose to go with the Amplified N.O. (Nitric Oxide Enhancer) to help with my pre-workout weight lifting and because GNC says, “Clinical results for the first and only nitric oxide product, Amplified Maxertion N.O., proven to demonstrate a delay in the onset of neuromuscular fatilinical results for the first and only nitric oxide product, Amplified Maxertion N.O., proven to demonstrate a delay in the onset of neuromuscular fatigue.”  That’s a pretty big claim.  I also went with the Maxertion N.O. because I’m already a good runner, I want to be able to improve the rest of my running body.  They have the Amplified Whey Protein, Amplified Whybolic Extreme 60, Amplified Muscle Meal, and Amplified Muscle Ignitor 4x, all for endurance athletes if you are looking to supplement your distance running.

This is what GNC says about the product:

“GNC’s Amplified Maxertion N.O. was shown to increase power output at the onset of neuromuscular fatigue by an average of 20% and improve physical performance by helping athletes push past their normal point of exhaustion. This product is designed to increase nitric oxide levels in the body causing a hemodilation effect which expands blood vessels, allowing more blood, oxygen and nutrients to flow to muscles.

‘This is truly groundbreaking research that has resulted in the delivery of a truly novel and clinically-validated product to the industry,’ said Guru Ramanathan, SVP Technology and Product Innovation for GNC. ‘Using advanced technology and ingredients, this is the first Nitric Oxide enhancing product to demonstrate significant athletic performance effects that are relevant and meaningful to all types of athletes.’”

Anything that will increase my output by 20% is intriguing.  I’m going to take a bottle of this and see how it effects my overall muscle mass and my running.  Like I said, I don’t usually take any supplements so by taking just this one, I’ll be able to accurately gauge the effects it is having on my body.  I wish my body came with gauges like my SUV did.

How to Run Faster

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

sprintingDo you want to increase your speed?  Sure, we all do.  But how do you do it if you are already running for distance?  Well, first of all, speed is relative to the amount of effort you put in; however, there are some ways you can increase your speed without taking anything away from your distance work-outs.

Tempo Runs are a great way to work on speed and still get the distance you need.  Try running distances less than the race distance you are training for at your race pace.  When doing this you are increasing your body’s knowledge of what it is like to run at that fast pace and how to execute that task.  Don’t worry if you feel exhausted after running a shorter distance than your race at race pace.  It’s not race day yet and there are other factors during a race that contribute to you running a faster time that can not be replicated very easily like the other runners, spectators, and water stations.

You can also increase your speed by incorporating hill work outs in your training.  When running uphills you have to use your leg muscles and upper body more than normal running which translates into faster running when you are on a flat surface.  Plus you’ll appreciate flat surfaces more.  You never know how good you had it until it’s is gone.

Changing your running mechanics can help as well.  In order to run faster than you normally do you need to increase your stride.  The longer your stride, the farther you go, the faster you run overall.  Make sense?  Of course, it’s logic.  In order to increase your stride start by making sure you stretch before every run.  The looser and more flexible your muscles are, the longer your stride.  Also try pushing off of your toes more.  It will increase your forward momentum along with your stride length.  However, do not increase your stride so you look like a gazelle or some other African inhabitant.  At some point, altering your stride and running style will give you diminishing returns.  Kind of like your current equity portfolio.  Sorry.  That wasn’t funny.

Lastly and most importantly, you want to increase your upper body strength.  Long distance runners often overlook this and it shows when they take their shirt off.  But if you look at any sprinter when they take their shirts off you can  see that larger upper body muscles increase speed.  Now stop staring.  Some areas you want to focus on are you chest, biceps, triceps, lower back, and shoulders.  Use less weight with more repetition rather than a couple of sets of heavy weights.  You don’t want to add too much bulk and weight to your body that you end up not using when running but still have to carry.  You just want efficient body mass that will help you push your upper body forward to help along your lower body.  Do not work out your legs if you are running a training plan.  This will only cause them to fatigue.  Just go run; better, faster, work  harder, get stronger.  I heard you’d do anything for a Klondike.

If you follow this advice you will run faster than you did before.  100% guaranteed or I will refund the price you paid to read this blog, including all opportunity costs; which I estimate to be rather low because you would have been on twitter otherwise.  While you’re there start following Seriousrunning…if you’re you can keep up.  Snap!