We are tackling the Wisconsin North Face Endurance Challenge in September and in preparation for this wickedly fun 10K trail run, we’ve partnered with Lauren Fairbanks, Chicago Mountain Athletics trainer. This week Lauren is helping us become well rounded athletes by challenging runners to add strength training to their regimen. This is also part of the focus of The North Face Mountain Athletics Program. Athletes and amateurs alike can take part in these free bi-weekly workouts in order to improve their speed, strength or endurance in any sport. You may even have a “Lauren siting” there. Welcome back Lauren!
It’s no secret that serious runners favorite form of exercise is running, but many runners may be missing one key component to their training program. One of the key components that compliment any running program is strength training. For a number of different reasons, runners often overlook the importance of adding in strength workouts to their training regimen. Some are scared to “bulk up” or gain too much muscle mass, while others might just be unfamiliar with how to work with weights. These days, runners need to do more than pound out miles on the pavement to see improvements in their racing performance. They need to be strong, athletic and have muscular balance to avoid injury during their training program. Strength training helps build a solid foundation in the body and increases joint stability, which in turn can lead to fewer injuries. The benefits of doing a strength training workout at least 2-3 days/week will not only help with injury prevention, but will also help your overall racing performance as well. Strengthening both big muscle groups (Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves) as well as the smaller stabilizer muscles throughout your hips (hip flexors, extensors, hip rotator muscles) will create a strong base to withstand the impact that running has on your body. The best exercises for runners are those that strengthen the legs, hips and core. Some examples of these would be squats, lunges, deadlifts, planks and step ups to name a few. Strength training will not only help you feel stronger during your races, but can also help you run longer and more efficiently. Stronger legs and core equals both more endurance and speed.
If you’re brand new to strength training you should build your weight capacity up slowly, starting with just body weight exercises and then progressing to loaded movements. Heavier strength training days can be done after your lighter mileage/intensity days, and body weight exercises can be done on the other days where your running training is more intense. Smaller hip mobility movements and foam rolling can be done on a regular basis and act more as maintenance since they are less intense. Below is a basic strength training routine you can do as a beginner with just body weight or add weight if you are more advanced. Circuit through each tri-set 3x them move on to the next one.
3 sets of 12 repetitions
Plank (1 minute)
Hip fire hydrants
3 sets of 12 repetitions
Single leg squats off a bench
Russian twists (30 seconds)
Side planks (30 seconds each)
So if you’re ready to crank up the intensity in your training, run faster, feel stronger, and spend less time injured then starting a strength training program is a no-brainer. You will definitely feel the positive effects in no time!
Lauren Fairbanks is a Certified Personal Trainer and Holistic Health Coach with a passion for helping people reach their goals. As a lifelong athlete with an expansive knowledge of nutrition she strives to share her expertise with everyone she meets. She loves working with people and helping open their eyes and minds to the positive effects of proper nutrition, physical activity and living a balanced life. Lauren was a Division I Track & Field Athlete at Central Michigan University where she graduated with a B.S. in Dietetics. Along with her Dietetics degree and personal training certification she also holds specialty certifications in Kettlebells, TRX, and Pre/Post Natal Training. When she’s not busy working with clients you can catch her running or riding her bike around the city, cooking, checking out Chicago’s newest restaurant, or planning her next travel adventure.