Bristol-based fitness blogger, Rachael Power, shares her tips for incorporating strength training in your half marathon training plan.
Even if you’re already smashing it at the gym on a regular basis, strength training for half marathons is an entirely different beast altogether. But one thing is for sure: you will need to do some, and you must have a plan. I’ve put together some tips that have helped me through past half marathons to get you started.
1. Join a gym or class
If you’re starting from scratch, or are one of those people who ‘only run’, then chances are you’ll need some motivation. Find something, preferably weights or resistant based, that you really enjoy doing and get stuck in. Personally, I’d recommend kettlebells, body pump or even just a general gym pass if you feel confident enough to handle weights by yourself.
2. High reps, low weight
As a personal trainer told me recently, training for long distance runs, you don’t want to be reaching for the very heavy weight. I’d recommend asking one before taking my advice - I can only say what’s worked for me - but high reps with low weights of any exercise (squats, lunges, leg press, quad extension) mean you can strengthen and tone without building a lot of bulk.
I can recommend Bristol Union Gate PureGym’s Julie Poole as someone I’ve gone to for advice in this respect - and there are plenty more around the city to tap up.
3. Twice a week
Strength training at least twice a week is definitely a good idea - although it’s not always easy to fit it in around runs due to recovery time needed.
To get around this, consume enough protein and nutritionally good for your body to be able to recover properly. This macros calculator from Bodybuilding.com is a very handy too, as is MyFitnessPal, which gives you a breakdown of the nutrients in the food you’re eating every day.
Get plenty of sleep, drink a lot of water and take it easy, too - if you feel very tired the next day, you can always cross train (swim, for example) instead of go for a run. If you’re prone to sore muscles or tiredness following strength sessions, keep them as far away as possible from your long run day.
4. Don’t forget your arms!
Runners get so obsessed with glutes, calves, hamstrings and occasionally quads, that they often forget your upper body and arms play a big part in energy consumption during running, too.
It’s worth paying attention to every area of your body, including arms, back and abs, as well as your legs. While you’ll be fine if you’re doing kettlebell classes or body pump, if you’re deciding to go it alone, it’s worth getting to grips with at least the cable area of the gym.
And if you’re into plyometrics and fitness on the fly, why not try running an interval route around the Bristol Downs, where there’s ample outdoor equipment to test your arms on? Benches and tree trunks can make good tricep dip supports, while you need nothing but the bare grass for planks and press ups.
Seek the advice of a personal trainer if you’re unfamiliar with strength training
Eat well, sleep well and rest well
Do something that motivates you
Ensure you’ve got proper form to avoid injury
That’s my view on strength training; but what’s yours?
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