Returning to Racing: The Importance of Strength Training

by Alyssa Lotmore

(continued from home page)

Fast forward 10 years since college competition and one child later, returning to the racing field is quite different. As we age, sometimes we need to change what we have done because that may not be what we still need for our physical and mental running success. I was a 16:40’s 5k runner and a sub-5 min miler. Could I get back to that level if I trained like I did in college? Possibly. However, that same training was not what I was looking for. Despite my running success in the past, I was not physically strong. I could run 70 miles a week but I could not lift my own body weight to do even one push-up. As I planned my return to getting back to racing, I knew that my path and training would be quite different from before.

Strength and Core

As a college runner, I never valued the fact that strength and core training could be just as important as the miles you put in. I focused on cardio and often pushed weight lifting and strength work to the side. This past year, before my return to the racing arena, I changed that mind-set. Daily strength-work was going to be just as high of a priority as my mileage. From lunges and bicep curls to planks and jump squats, a mixture of high-intensity and toning/sculpting exercise would be included as a daily post-run or even running substitute activity.

What I have found is that the strength work has helped my body not to break down as easily as it used it. Having a strong core and muscle base has allowed my body to reach a different gear when I hit that running muscle fatigue during a race. It has been like a ‘secret weapon’ that really is not a secret, but more of an ignored aspect for many runners who prioritize mileage over the other critical elements that round out competitive success. Returning to racing can be a challenge, but we must physically and mentally prepare ourselves for that journey and listen to what our body is asking for at this time in our running career.

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