Getting Faster by Getting Stronger

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not do enough core or strengthening exercises. At the start of every training cycle, I vow to myself that I will make it a habit to do both (like I did back in Jan 2012!), but that usually only lasts a week or two and then it all starts to go downhill.

I used to be SO diligent about core/strength work. When I was running with the Ft Hood Army 10 miler team back in 2007, I would have practice at 5am and then immediately head to the gym to do 30-45 of weights, abs, cross-training or strength work before showering and heading to work. I followed the same plan when I was deployed to Iraq later that year and I remember feeling strong – not just running strong – but a complete body strong that made me a stronger, fitter runner. A few months after that deployment I ran the Boston Marathon (where I ran my PR time of 3:21). I had never seen or run Heartbreak Hill prior to race day. I didn’t even know that I had just crested the top until I saw a sign that said so – and I remember turning to my husband (who was running with me) and asking him “Was that it?”.

Going up Heartbreak Hill - still smiling =)

Going up Heartbreak Hill – still smiling =)

In an ideal world, I’d have more time to log all my miles and do the core/strength work I want to do. I’m sure once the boys start school full-time, I will be able to do these things. Right now, however, it’s often a case of one or the other. And unfortunately, it’s gotten easier to let the little things slide. I often have the intention of doing either core or strength training immediately post-run but as is often the case, I start my workout 10-20 minutes later than planned and only have time for running. And I’d rather get in the miles then cut my run short by a mile or two and do both.

I know my mentality is a bit skewed and that running five miles LESS a week but incorporating MORE core/strength work into my routine would actually benefit me more than logging a few extra miles and skipping the other things.

After a conversation with my friend Meg this morning, I have made the decision to cut back my weekly mileage and focus on my core 3x/week and strength training 2-3x/week – just like I used to do. I’m also going to eliminate (at least) one running day/week and get on my bike 1-2x/week.

Truth is, it’s really easy to get caught up in the “I ran X number of miles this week” game. I know I won’t be able to say I ran 75 or 80 miles/week this training cycle, but I’m hoping the addition of other things will actually make me a stronger, faster runner. And in the end, that is the most important thing for me.

How often do you do core or strength work?

Any exercises/websites you’d like to share?


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    42 thoughts on “Getting Faster by Getting Stronger

    1. Pingback: It’s More Than Just Running

    2. There have been times when I was feeling bad after tough workouts and was unable to follow my training regime. That was not what I was planning to do when I’ve started going to the gym :) My trainer has really helped me by telling a lot about the importance of propoer nutrition and by giving advices on how to improve it. Now I am trying to make my food as rich in nutrients as possible. Still, our everyday life sometimes does not allow receiving all vitamins and minerals from the food we take. Besides, after workouts our muscles need special support in order to recover properly. I was advised to take Second Wind by Military Grade. This is new post-workout supplement can be ordered at amazon. It supports muscle recovery without any trauma. Now I am feeling better and stronger than ever before.

    3. Pingback: My Favorite Home Workout DVDs

    4. I’m a lot late to this party, but had to drop in and say that YES, I think you’ll benefit tremendously from dropping a few miles and working your core/weights plan. I did just that (I do whole-body strength and core 3xweek) beginning at the end of 2012, and this one-marathon-a-year girl ran Boston in April, New York in November then turned around and ran a 50k on dec 28th in a not-too-shabby newbie time. Several shorter races over the year, as well. Still standing and training for a similar 2014 but more and FASTER. 😉 can’t wait to see how it goes for you!
      Cindy @ Kicking it In recently posted..Run Like a Girl Challenge: Focus on the processMy Profile

    5. I think strength training and core work are so important and help prevent injuries. I only have ever run 3x a week max 4 and strength train, do yoga or HIIT the other days. and this past summer I added biking in too. I recommend Tone it up as they post free workouts that mainly work your whole body and are quick functional workouts. I also like zuzka light’s ZWOW’s for HIIT/plyo workouts. check them out! Good work on recognizing you need to do more cross training! You can make it work you make time to run and you can make time for strength training!

    6. I’ve found that doing a lot of HIIT work helps my endurance and pace SIGNIFICANTLY. I try to do these workouts at least 2-3 times a week. Another thing that has helped me significantly are sprinting exercises. I’ll sprint no more than 200m at a time, and do it for about 10 minutes. Then, if I’m feeling up to it I’ll maybe spend another 5-10 minutes working on hills. If I stick to these exercises, and just stick to short runs the week before my race, I notice a huge difference in my pace.

    7. I think it’s important to know that a little core work makes a big impact and getting too focused on spending 30-45 minutes on it isn’t as necessary as you may think, and maybe fitting in 10-15 minutes a day could go a long way. Check out Lesley Paterson (Xterra World Champion and KILLER CORE strength) 6minute6pack which she just released.

    8. I am bad with balancing core and strength too. When I’m training for a race I usually don’t strength train much. Currently I’m taking a break from running but lifting a lot, so hopefully building that strength helps once I start half marathon training!
      Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted..Are You “Crazy?”My Profile

    9. I do core probably twice a week, and shoot to get weights in 3-4 times per week! I really, really love strength training, and if I had all the time in the world, I would run in the morning, and strength train at like 4pm. Obviously, that can’t happen with a job, so, I aim to get in 15-20 minutes of full body circuits after a hard workout, 25-30 minutes of 2 targeted muscle groups on easier days, or 30-40 targeted muscle group with maybe 20 minutes on the bike on cross training days.
      Crystal@TheFastFitRunner recently posted..2014 Chevron Houston Marathon – Race Report (238th woman)My Profile

    10. I feel like I could have written this. The same things happen to my running- starting later, compromising the goal to do strength so I can get my run in. I was JUST thinking to myself today “hey way to go with your strength training goal…” I know that negative self talk doesn’t do anything but I was acknowledging that I needed to get back on track with it. Thanks for this push! Good luck to you!
      Nicolasa recently posted..Team in Training Tuesday | Check in #2My Profile

    11. Im terrible in this department. But all the pelvic floor weakness issues and the latest hamstring issues have taught me that I HAVE to do them. So I’ve been cross training three times a week and I’m taking barre class every friday. Taking the class is keeping me motivated. And it is so challenging. I’d recommend it to any runner.
      Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..You Gotta Try This!My Profile

    12. When I was at my fittest (as an adult) was last spring when I was running 4-5 days a week, doing at least 15-30 minutes of core focused yoga a day, and 2-3 30 minute strength circuits a week.

      My time is a little more limited, but just joined a new boutique gym that does fitness fusion: 30 minutes of cardio (some days it’s speed intervals, some its hills, some pure endurance, and you choose spin bike, treadmill or rower), 30 minutes of strength (everything from simple free weight work to bands or TRX, and always includes some additional cardio, such as squat jumps), and ends with 15 minutes of yoga. I’m completely obsessed with it, and excited to see what it does for my running.
      Cyanne (RunStretchGo) recently posted..I’ve already been to Disney World, so what’s next?!My Profile

    13. I have three little boys and I struggle with finding the time too. But I got some kettlebells to use at home. 10-15 minutes a day with my 45 lb kettlebell and I feel more ripped after 3 kids than I felt before-and I spent more time doing strength work before I had kids. Definitely recommend kettlebells.

    14. I used to just run and skip the rest until I hit about age 35 and I needed more (plus I couldn’t physically run every day). Since adding in plenty of core and strength training I’m actually running faster than ever (even than I did as a college athlete) – I know that it is because I’m stronger.
      Kim recently posted..Do Clothes “Make” Us?My Profile

    15. I am so awful about doing Core work and Strength Training. I am the exact same and say that I’m going to incorporate it in to my daily routines. It is so hard with two kids and working to fit it all in. I get my runs in early in the morning but my son is an early riser and I am still tired when I get back that I don’t do it. I definitely won’t be getting up early to do strength training because I only manage to wake up early since I am meeting friends. So hard! I’d love to find that happy medium.
      Lacy @ Running Limit-less recently posted..ZOOMA Florida Half Marathon Race Recap – Amelia IslandMy Profile

    16. I am a big believer in the power of strength training! Although I totally get that it’s really hard to get in these days and I don’t do as much as I’d like to, but I’ve been fairly consistent with two days a week. And I think you’re right- replacing one easy run with the extra strength will make you stronger… if only there was time to do it all!
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..13 weeks pregnant updateMy Profile

    17. Some days strength training is more important and more beneficial than running. I think you’re doing the smart thing, but agree it’s easy to get caught up in trying to run more and more mileage.
      Jess recently posted..January FavoritesMy Profile

    18. Great post! I definitely get caught up in wanting to run “x” amount of miles as well, and cut out any strength training I had intended to do! Definitely want to try and focus on adding more of that in this year!
      Kate recently posted..Walt Disney World MarathonMy Profile

    19. Besides running I workout daily at Kosama (eventually compare it to crossfit) and it really has helped to transform my running. There is a lot of core, back, and strength training pretty much every day. I did not realize how important that type of workout is until I started these workouts last July.
      Christoph recently posted..Those Birds …My Profile

    20. My coach has my schedule set up so I do weight training 3 times a week, core work-outs for 20 minutes 4 times a week, and then I do 2 days of cross training (spinning or elliptical for me) and on those xtrain days I do my weight routine = leaving me one extra day I do weights on (usually my easy pace mileage day). After I got injured a couple times I realized how important it was to cut down my mileage and add the other stuff. It has made a huge difference for me.
      Jolene Cannady recently posted..Future ParentMy Profile

    21. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I’ve totally slacked off on my strength training and PT exercises. There’s so much I want to do and that seems like the first thing to go from my list. I’ve started doing strength training 2x a week after shorter runs, mostly because Jess puts it in my schedule and I have to report back to her :-) But I know that it will help and make me stronger in the end.
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Coffee TalkMy Profile

    22. I feel one of the reasons I am not as fast as I was a year ago is directly related to me stopping the strength/core training. I have fully committed to taking 2-3 body pump classes (45-60 min full body strength workout utilizing barbell and free weights) a week now and am hoping this helps me get back to where I was. Plus I kind of miss some of my muscles! It made me a much better runner before and am hoping that is the missing component right now.
      Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted..Being a “Fitness Snob”My Profile

    23. I think it’s a really smart move. As we age, the fight to maintain muscle gets tougher, so it’s a great idea to get into the habit now to build that strength. I am faithful to core work every day and overall strength work 2-3x/week. I need it at my age!
      misszippy1 recently posted..Cultivating the right attitudeMy Profile

    24. Great post! I always have the intention of doing core work before/after runs, but it seems to fall by the wayside. What a good reminder that sometimes its more important to sacrifice a little bit of a run for some short core work. I know that it would make me a stronger runner. Thanks!
      Amy recently posted..[week one] towpath half marathon trainingMy Profile

    25. I do strength workouts three times a week and usually on those days I will also do some core work. Overall, I just feel better. I also noticed an improvement in my running from lifting heavy weights.
      Natalie recently posted..Weekly workouts recapMy Profile

    26. I do PT xtraining for one hour, once a week while running 5x week. I find it’s all I can take!