Strength Training for Runners: Turns out They’re onto Something!

Okay, so I think it’s probably safe to say that most people reading this are runners.  That’s how I got into this blogging thing; that’s most of the blogs I follow; and I’m pretty sure most of my followers are in a pretty similar boat.  So how many times have we heard, how many articles have we read, how much have we been preached to about how strength training for runners is SO IMPORTANT?  Well… as it turns out?  They’re right!

Here’s the deal.  I started running at 29.  It burned calories.  I lost fat.  It was great!  That was all I did.  I knew that my monogamous relationship with running was on borrowed time.  I knew eventually I would have to cheat on running with some sort of strength training, but I was in denial that the time had actually come.  But man, when you see pictures of yourself and cringe, it’s hard to hang onto that denial.

If you’ll remember, I was out with an injury for SEVERAL months last spring.  I was already getting kind of soft just BECAUSE of my lack of strength training and the natural shit that happens to a girl in her mid-30s.  Then when you suffer a chronic injury that sidelines you for months, that only compounds the problem.  Still I wasn’t terribly concerned because I thought, “Meh, it’ll come back off when I can start running again.”  Only then I started running again, and that shit wasn’t going anywhere.  By the late summer of 2015 I weighed more than I have weighed since I was an obese teenager.  Something had to give.  I had to make changes.  A friend of mine whom I’d met through dog rescue was also a Beachbody coach, and because I loathe a gym atmosphere, I opted to go through her for an at-home strength-based workout program.  I opted for the 21 Day Fix Extreme challenge pack with guarded expectations, but I took my “before” photos, bought a couple of sets of dumbbells, and waited for my DVDs and Shakeology to arrive.  As embarrassing as they are, in the interest of complete transparency and keeping it real, here they are.

My God.  I knew I’d put on a few, but I didn’t realize I looked like THAT from behind.  Why hadn’t someone told me?!  It was seeing these photos that made me want to go all in, and I did just that.  I followed the vegan version of the meal plan, and for 30 minutes a day for 21 days I did resistance training, and for the first time ever I FREAKING LOVED IT.  In three weeks I lost 4.4 pounds, an inch and a half off my waist, and an inch and a quarter off my hips.

Also in that three weeks, I fell in love with everything I learned about the company.  I knew that I was in this for the long haul, and I signed on as a coach.  I knew that I would be continuing to use the products (I LOOOOOOOVED the Shakeology), and with coaches receiving an automatic 25% discount, it was a no-brainer.  And aside from that, I wanted to be able to share what was shared with me.  Since I made the decision to be a coach, I knew I wanted to be the best one that I could be and wanted as much first-hand knowledge of the products as I could get, so as much as I loved the 21DFX, I decided to start making my way through different programs so that I knew what they were all about and could help people choose the program that was right for them based on their goals.

My next one was PiYo.  Guys, this is a recovering injured runner’s DREAM.  This program requires NO weights or equipment, and there is NO jumping and NO high impact moves.  It let me build my fitness level and gradually increase my running mileage at the same time without putting too much stress on my hip too soon.  I was hesitant about even trying this one given my hatred of Yoga, but this is a blend of Yoga and Pilates and it keeps you moving and DEFINITELY gives you a good workout.  I saw amazing changes and felt so much stronger in my core, shoulders, and butt thanks to this program.  I came out of it much stronger, leaner, and at a weight I had been chasing for a loooong time.  I was finally under 130 for the first time since my early 20s!

After PiYo, I was well into the hectic Christmas season and didn’t fully commit to a program again until after the first of the year when I started The Master’s Hammer & Chisel.  I was so excited to start this one.  It was a brand new release and I was already seeing the amazing results that people were getting with this program.  I’ve never been one to fully trust the “before and after” photos you see on TV or on social media, but when I’m seeing people I KNOW using the program transform before my very eyes, that doubt factor is removed.  Hammer & Chisel definitely lived up to its hype and then some.  I had some pretty awesome gains in those 56 days.

H&C after

I mean seriously, lets look at those quads and that back for a second, shall we?!  haha!  And feel free at this point to scroll back up to the top and see those very first before photos again for a quick comparison.  Pretty big change, huh?

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am SO EFFING PROUD of myself for how far I’ve come these last six months.  And I’m not stopping here.  I’m now in my 3rd week of P90X (yep, decided to go retro and do an older program that’s been around a while!) and I’m continuing to see changes and feel stronger by the day.

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A couple of action shots from P90X Kenpo

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I’d like to think that being so much stronger overall will benefit my race times too, but with warmer temps coming, I guess it’ll still be a few months before I can test that theory out.  haha  It’ll be interesting!  I do have another half coming up in two weeks, but I’ve been focusing on running slow, in a fat-burning zone for so long that I kind of doubt I have any long distance speed anywhere in me.  I did start doing 400s again a couple of weeks ago because there’s a 10K coming up in May that I’d kind of like to do and not completely suck at.  The 400s went surprisingly well with every one of them being below an 8 min/mile pace.  When I was doing speed work before, it was rare to ever have ONE lap under 2 min, but this week they ALL were, the fastest at a 7:28 pace!

So we will just see how the 10K goes!  I’d love to PR the distance, but I am not going to be upset if I don’t.  My main reason for ever starting to run was for fun, for health, to have something for ME, and, yeah I admit it, for vanity, and I’m getting all of those through my combo of slow running and strength training now, so I’ll be a happy girl whatever the clock says at the finish line.

***if you have any questions about these or any other Beachbody programs or Shakeology, please feel free to reach out to me!  I’d be honored to help any way that I can.