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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Or....

So I was at Starbucks yesterday and a seemingly innocent comment started me thinking...

A woman looks at me and says:"Do you run or lift weights?" which she followed with a very complimentary observation.
I smiled and said "Uh, thanks I do both."

...and that was it..didn't think any more about it for at least a minute or so and then could help but focus in on her question.  Did I run OR lift weights.  Weird, I thought..I didn't realize that there was an OR option.  I giggled to myself as I hurriedly texted this conversation to all of Team Hot Legs, surely they would find this just as humorous as I did. As we giggled more about the absurdity of this paradigm, I couldn't help but think that maybe this is part of the problem.  There IS an OR mentality with weight training and running. Like they have to be mutually exclusive.  One cannot not exist in the same space the other does.  Runners are afraid of lifting weights thinking they will gain muscle and it will slow them down and people that lift weights are afraid of running thinking that it will cause them to lose muscle leaving them small and weak.  Well, what if there was a way to do both?? GASP! How dare I suggest such blasphemy?! Ok, I won't suggest it.  I will state it with confidence.   


Just like you need to mix all of the proper amounts of each ingredient at the proper time to make your grandmother's famous cornbread recipe, you need to combine a well thought out training plan with proper nutrition and supplementation to maximize your efforts.  Not willing to do that? Then it looks like you will be living in an OR situation for the rest of your life. Willing to think outside the box?? Read on..

Years ago, I was a subscriber of the OR  mentality.  Let's clarify that-- someone told me that it couldn't be done and I blindly accepted that as fact.  I'm guessing that the problem may lie somewhere in a person's concept or definition of what running is. Generally running is thought of as long, slow distance running -what runners refer to as LSD. Long slow distance is one aspect of running training.  Just as there are many different ways to weight train, there are many different ways to run.  There are tempo runs, speed work, fartleks (from the Swedish 'speed play'), repeats, sprints and recovery runs.    Running can fit into any fitness program but first you must establish the goal of your training.  Looking to be a marathon runner? You'll need to incorporate all types of runs.  But don't eschew weight training.  You'll definitely need to include training for your core (hips, glutes, abdominals, back) as well as for the lower leg. The focus need not be to gain muscle mass, but for strength and stabilization.  Leave this important training piece out and you will find yourself laid up with injuries.  Proper weight training will also improve power output as well as help increase glycogen storage-two things that will only improve running performance. Looking to be muscular? Focus more on sprint, interval, fartlek and short repeat training in conjunction with your weight training.  


Your goal will also dictate how many times a week you perform each type of training and in which order.  Marathon runner- weight train 2-3x week while running 3 days/week.  More muscular physique- run 2-3x week in conjunction with your weight training split-4-5x week.  When or if running and training occur on the same day, realize that one will not be performed maximally.  Meaning that undoubtedly one will 'suffer' slightly because of the other. Running first will reduce force production/power output for the weight training session.  However weight training first may result in heavy, tired legs and a reduction in speed and running performance.  Weight training and running would best be performed on different days, however if that is not feasible it is best to keep your main focus in mind and perform that activity FIRST.  


This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to program planning.  Nutrition and supplementation must be geared toward successful completion of and recovery from the specific training protocol. Without this you are dead in the water no matter what your training plan is. Plan properly and there isn't any reason to live an OR lifestyle.

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