Strength Training—Do I Really Have To?

I can’t speak for all of you, but from my experience, I think it’s safe to say that runners are not fans of strength training. We just want to run. I definitely fall into that bucket. I know that strength training is really good for runners. Almost every book about running that I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot) talk about the benefits of strength training. Every time I think to myself, “Yes. I’m going to start doing it.” but do I?  That’s a big fat No. Then, enter Michele. When I started working with Michele, she sent me this whole big gob of stick figures doing amazing things. Those little stick figures are impressive, they definitely kick my butt. The good and the bad of that is that I started doing strength training. Not because I wanted to, but because I’m a box checker and if my training plan says “Strength”, and I know someone (i.e. Michele) is watching to see if I do it, well then, I’m going to do it to check that box and earn my gold-star. That’s just who I am. Even now I make lists of all the stuff I have to do so I can cross it off when I’m done. There’s something satisfying about it.

So, nearly two years with Michele later, and yes I’m still doing strength training. Do I like it by now? Nope. I pretty much hate it, but I do it and I have to say I always feel a little more accomplished after. However, am I 100% on top of it all the time—that’s another big-fat No.  If something comes up, which often does running is a hobby not my career, then the first thing I sacrifice from my training schedule is the strength. I’m also supposed to do it three times a week, but often I only hit it once a week. So instead of getting three gold-star stickers each week, I’m only earning one. However, I’m determined to change that and become even more focused. Besides, who doesn’t want to have Michele’s cut muscles? I want to look like that! I’ve got two very difficult (for me) races coming up in July and August, so I need all the help I can get to knock those out successfully and be able to walk the day after.

I thought about peppering this article with quotes and references about how great strength training is and why we should do it—but this is not new knowledge. We all know we need to do it. So, knowledge is not the problem. For me, it’s a combination of a busy schedule, and it’s not my favorite thing. BUT for those of you who aren’t naturally box-checkers and maybe need a little convincing here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say in favor of strength training (and the Mayo Clinic is full of really smart people so it’s hard to argue with them). Muscles are a use or lose and the older we get the more they start to wither away if we’re not putting them to work; Strength training helps build up strong bones increasing bone density (goodbye Osteoporosis); It increases your metabolism which slows with age and therefore helps fight off unwanted weight gain (note again the whole age thing factor here); Fights against chronic conditions like “arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes”; Boosts brain power! (Who doesn’t want that?)

There are loads of other articles about the benefits of strength training, so if this isn’t enough to convince you, then hit up your good buddy Mr. Google and hunker down for a long day of reading.

If you are convinced, and you want to be more consistent with it, then I extend a challenge to you. I am challenging myself to get it done whenever it’s on my training plan and earn all my gold-stars. Plus, I really want to have solid races this summer. I invite you to join me in a challenge to make strength training a priority for the summer months of June, July, and August. If you’d like to join me, then post in the Rugged Running Facebook Group, and tag me in the comment. If you’re not on Facebook or aren’t comfortable posting, then send me an email at blstaker@gmail.com. I will then reach out to all of you and weekly we’ll be in touch to hold each other accountable (and complain if needed). So, who’s with me?

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