Whether you're trying to bulk up while you're running, or you just want to be a better runner, it can be really tough to figure out how exactly should I incorporate strength training into my running routine? Well, I'm Jesse Funk and on today's episode of Runner's High, I'm going to give you now one, but two expert opinions on how exactly to do that.
Normally, in these videos, I get to be the expert. You're here with me on my channel, and I get to share with you the tips that I learned over my 20 years of running competitively. But today, I'm actually going to share with you opinions from two other people, very, very good experts in this field. One of them is somebody I know personally and she's a really great lady.
The other one is a person who's been on my Smart Athlete Podcast who shared kind of in-depth. I'm gonna give his last. His is the kind of big the tip to stay around to the end. But first, I am actually going to give you a little bit of my background and a few things to watch out for as you're adding these routines in.
My personal background was strength training in relation to running really started in high school. So, we're going back a ways now, but it's important to tell you about this because there's a big pitfall here. So, when I was doing this, I was doing my normal running after school for cross country or track, whatever season it was, and I was also taking a strength training class.
And I did this multiple times, multiple semesters and what ended up happening is I wasn't eating enough. So, I can't stress enough, pay attention to what you're eating. If you're adding in that extra work, make sure you're staying at least flat on your calories. Because we can't grow our muscles in a calorie deficit. That's another tip that my guest who I will introduce here at the end had told me about on my interview with him. So, it's very important that you pay attention to that.
Now, caveat aside, the easiest way to introduce a strength training program into your run schedule, assuming you already have one established is going to be after your long run days. And the reason I suggest that is because those are the days where you’re not going to have taxed your body as hard as your speed days. You're already going to exhaustion on speed days.
So, on the other days, when you have less time to kind of wear yourself out kind of in that higher capacity, that more power version of working out with strength training or speed work, then that's when you're going to want to do it. So, after a long run is typically where I suggest you start if you want to add strength training.
Now with the tip that I just gave in adding that into your long run days, I will say if you are a highly trained athlete, you've been running for some time, that means four to five years, 30 miles a week consistently over that time, probably doing speed work, then it may be beneficial to you to add in some kind of strength work on your speed days because you can get an overload effect.
That's a little outside of the scope of this video, but I do want to be clear that there is a time and place for that to happen. So, keep that in mind. If that's you, then that might be something to look into. Google overload or if you want to see me do a video on overload and the effects of overload, leave me a comment down below and let me know.
So, the first thing I want to suggest when adding a strength training routine in, is going to come from my friend and kind of former coach, Barb Lindquist. Now, if you don't know Barb, which you may not given the time framework in, Barb was the US’s first woman to be ranked number one in the world as a triathlete. She was a pro triathlete for 10 years.
She raced in the 2004 Olympics. Barb's suggestion to all the athletes coming up kind of through the pipeline, trying to become professionals is to do a strength training program based on body weight and to add instability when you want to kind of increase weight, so to speak.
So, that means we're going to be doing push-ups, we're going to be doing planks, we're going to be doing things like that. And then you add instability to those to increase your resistance. So, in the case of a push-up, you might take a regular push-up, and then go to doing one-legged push-ups, or putting your feet on a ball of some sort and having to balance while you're doing that.
There's a whole series of things, again, a little outside of the scope of this particular video. If you'd like to see a demo routine of me doing that and showing you kind of Barb’s stuff, and the things that she shared with me and a lot of athletes coming up to become professionals, let me know down in the comments below, I'd love to do another video. But that is her suggestion and it's what she suggests and used as a pro. So, you can trust somebody who was number one in the World, they were still doing it, it's probably still applicable to you.
Before we move on, I should not forget to mention that the point of doing all these bodyweight exercises and not using weight is because we want to add strength to our body. But we don't want to add bulk or weight. Because as a runner, or a triathlete, if you're like me, then the whole point is that you want to have a higher power to weight ratio.
You want to be able to produce more power for the same or similar body weight. So, it's important that you get stronger without adding a bunch of bulk on top of that, again, if you'd like to see that demo routine, leave me a comment below. And as always, subscribe to the channel to stick around so you'll be able to see that here in the future.
Now, my number one tip actually comes from a guest I had on my show, the Smart Athlete Podcast. If you haven't seen that, you can check that out here in a minute. I'll have a link to his video at the very end. He’s a professor at UC Berkeley, Dr. Keith Barr.
Now, Keith actually studies the relationship between tendons and muscles, among other things. But this is one of the things he's really known for is the kind of relationship between tendons, ligaments, muscles, how they all work together, how we augment them, how they affect performance, and all those kinds of things.
Now, the concept of what Keith studies actually relies on the idea that you want tight tendons and loose muscles. That's because when you have tight tendons, you're able to transfer power more efficiently. So, as Dr. Keith explains it in many of his lectures, he'll say, imagine there's a rock in front of me. So, here I am, here you are, maybe you're the rock.
So, say I attach a rubber band to you and I'm trying to pull you towards me. That rubber band is going to continue to stretch and stretch and stretch, you're not going to move towards me very much. But if I change out that rubber band for a rope, and then I pull, you're going to move much easier towards me than you would with a rubber band.
And that's the whole idea between tight tendons. The tendons are what allow your loose muscles, those things that are contracting and trying to drive power and move you through physical space allows you to transfer that power more effectively when they are tighter. So, that's the whole idea behind what Dr. Keith suggests in the episode. So, here we are finally at the secret, the thing I wanted to tell you about, Dr. Keith bars research.
And that is when you add that strength during routine in, if you're not looking to overload your muscles, you're not looking to gain extra fitness, meaning maybe you've been training for a while, you're already pretty strong. You don't think that that strength training is going to add any actual extra power to you without adding bulk. Then you want to look at possibly doing something with weight, higher weight, and lower reps.
This is where Dr. Keith’s research comes into play. And he basically shows us that through these loads. He'll do different kinds of loads, say jumping, or sometimes using weight. So, it can just be body weight with jumping. Doing those kinds of things puts a load on our tendons.
And we have to take a period of time of rest before they'll recuperate, and then adapt and be able to grow stronger or tighter or kind of force more connections between our muscles and our tendons. So, Dr. Keith, if you see this, I'm probably butchering your research. So, look up his research independently. But that's the whole idea. And it's important to note that more is not better.
And this is something he stresses is that there is a period of time where you do a certain number of reps and that's it. Doing more does not help you at all. So, it's actually kind of nice. So, we can get them in, get it done pretty quickly, and be done. And then you just have to wait. It's often at least a 24 hour period, sometimes longer. In a few cases of his research, it's shorter.
But 24 hours is usually a pretty good adaptation period for most what I've seen from him. And that means, do your reps and stop so you don't have a whole lot to do after you're done with your run. And you can incorporate it whichever day; strength training day on your long runs or your speed work, whatever you want to do.
So, the two ways basically to approach it, either Barb's way or Keith's way. If you want to work on muscles that aren't normally getting worked, or you're just beginning and you have a lot of neuromuscular advancement you can do, it's a fancy way of saying you haven't reached your peak, then do Barb's method. Adding those bodyweight exercises, work those muscle groups that you don't normally work, work the ones that you do normally work, all with bodyweight and instability.
If you've gotten to the point where you've kind of plateaued there, and you just need to transfer more power, t
Take Dr. Keith’s method into play. Do those kinds of higher load activities in lower reps, short period of time, and then move on. So, those are the two things you can do.
If you want to see my entire interview with Dr. Keith, he's got so much more information to share on all kinds of subjects. It's actually my most popular episode to date. There should be a link right on the video coming up here soon. Click on that and check him out. As always, subscribe to the channel, and I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.