Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Every once in awhile I get asked how I’m able to handle everything. Besides work and family, there’s running, blogging, writing articles, interviewing runners, etc. It never seemed to be that big of a deal. But now I find myself wanting to venture into other areas and I just don’t know how I’ll make it fit.

Something has to give.

Somethings are relatively easy to fit in, like finally getting around to reading the Harry Potter series. I figure it’s time and I’m currently on book four, out of seven.

Another thing I’d like to do is take better photos. We seem to spend lots of money on cameras with all kinds of features and then all we do is turn them on, point and click. After seeing my neighbor’s photos, it’s apparent I can learn a thing or two. Be sure to check out his photography page and his photo gallery too.

From a fitness standpoint, I think I need to make a serious effort to add some strength/explosiveness training. The thing I struggle with is what exercises to do and how to go about incorporating them. I’m from the school of bench press, curls, military press, squats, etc. And I’m not sure those return the biggest bang for their buck for an endurance athlete.

Time and resources are limited. I need to get the most benefit out of the least amount of time. I’ve thought about everything from joining a gym, giving Crossfit a try, going to a personal trainer, gathering a bunch of books, magazine articles, online videos, etc. and just creating my own program at home. I’ll probably just try the latter route to save some money. I’ve been hearing about this P90X lately, but I really don’t have any idea what it is.

Of course, I’m trying to fit in rollerskiing – the Birkie is less than 18 weeks away – and eventually x-c skiing. And I’ve been biking a little more lately. I love not having to pound the pavement all the time, but I have yet figured out how to do it without losing running fitness. Running Times had a nice article on Lydiard’s principles - #1 being building a huge aerobic engine through base training. I totally agree. However, I wonder if my aerobic engine cares whether I do it by running, biking, skiing, swimming, etc. Or does it have more to do with my running-specific muscles?

So those are all the thoughts in my head right now. I’m working on plotting my weekly schedule just to show me what times I have available to workout. In the meantime, I’ve gone back to doing what I love – hitting the trails every morning for an hour-long run.

Quote of the Day;

“When I went up to Oxford, I wanted to take part in sport. I was too light for rowing, and I wasn’t skilled enough for rugby. But I knew I could run.” – Sir Roger Bannister


Runnin-From-The-Law said...

You should take a peek at Adam's blog (get primal) for stength/explosiveness training ideas. I know he posts alot of specific workouts that look short, but focused. Look like they would be easy to fit into a busy schedule. Let me know how they go - they look way to hard for me!

AZ said...

I will definitely incorporate more strength/explosiveness training in the future. I'm from the weights school too but maybe more speedwork or plyometrics?

Beth said...

I agree, there isn't enough time in the day to fit in everything. Good luck with the strength training. I do a little plyometric training, but could certainly do more. It's hard! :)


I did a three month cycle of the P90X routine a couple years back. Its great for good old fashioned strength training and overall fitness, but not all that beneficial for endurance athletes. Plus, it takes between 60-90 minutes a day, six days a week. I agree with the other posts that the multi-joint explosive movements are the most beneficial for folks like us - plus you can really get a lot of work done in a 20 minute session. I'm looking at incorporating some stuff from a book called Core Perforfmance - Endurance. Focus is on strengthening and stretching muscles used in running, biking and swimming. I'll keep you posted! In the meantime, maybe you should just give up sleeping.

Chad said...

Nate, I didn't realize the P90X took so much time. With endurance activities being my main exercise, I can't dedicate that kind of time to a strength program. I have Core Performance (not the Endurance version) and I'm pretty sure it "requires" that you work out everyday. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the endurance version.

Unknown said...

Chad, I would stay far away from P90X (a very high risk of injury, not based on science, etc.). The peer-reviewed scientific evidence shows that strength training absolutely improves distance running performance at all distances (and thus, it's a little surprising so many runners and coaches still shy away from it). In order to maximize distance running performance, a runner should strength train no more than 1-2 times per week. 8-10 exercises should be performed. Perform 1 set of about 8-15 repetitions. All reps should be performed in a slow manner - this maximizes muscle tension and muscle fiber recruitment. This is a far more effective method of recruiting fast twitch muscle fibers so speed and "explosiveness" can be improved. It is also the safest way to improve explosiveness. Surprisingly, the scientific research does not indicate that plyometrics carry much of a benefit (and risk of injury is very high - even if performed properly). Again, this is what the preponderance of peer-reviewed research sattes about the topic. I have been using these tenets with hundreds of runners ranging from 2:15 marathoners to hour marathoners over the past 8 years.

Unknown said...

Thought this may be of interest - we sent it out this past Jan.

Friday, January 9, 2009
Improving Running Economy in Distance Runners

Running economy, defined as the oxygen uptake required at a given absolute exercise intensity, is an important predictor of race performance in a variety of distances. It is well established in the scientific literature that strength training improves running economy in both recreational and highly-trained distance runners. The question is: what kind of strength training is best for improving distance running? A study published this month in the International Journal of Sports Medicine attempts to answer this question. The authors examined whether explosive strength training (lighter weights, lifted quickly, plyometrics, etc.) or heavy strength training (heavier weight, slower lifting speeds) is more effective in improving running economy. The authors concluded that when compared with explosive strength training, heavy strength training seems to be more effective for the improvement of running economy in distance runners ("highly-trained" distance runners were used in the study). This is a very interesting finding as many runners (at all levels) cling tightly to the myth that strength training with "heavy" weights will make them bulky or slow them down. According to the scientific evidence, the opposite is true.