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  1. #1
    Registered User Katie9's Avatar
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    Strength Training for Half Marathon

    I was completely out of shape before I began running in November, unable to run even a mile without being winded. I have lost 14 lbs (down to 122lbs, I'm 5'1") and am now up to running 3 miles for my short runs and 5 miles is my longest. I am following a half marathon training program similar to Hal Hidgon's intermediate program.

    I am supposed to be strength training at least two days a week, but am clueless as to what I should be doing. I am not sure if I should be focusing on my upper body since I am running 5 days a week. Also, not sure how many reps I should be doing. Can any runners give me some advice?
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  2. #2
    Registered User gatovolador's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Katie9 View Post
    I was completely out of shape before I began running in November, unable to run even a mile without being winded. I have lost 14 lbs (down to 122lbs, I'm 5'1") and am now up to running 3 miles for my short runs and 5 miles is my longest. I am following a half marathon training program similar to Hal Hidgon's intermediate program.

    I am supposed to be strength training at least two days a week, but am clueless as to what I should be doing. I am not sure if I should be focusing on my upper body since I am running 5 days a week. Also, not sure how many reps I should be doing. Can any runners give me some advice?
    Strength training for running means fighting the muscular imbalances that come with running and preventing injury. You don't need to worry about your upper body really- sure do some pushups and bodyweight stuff since women are lacking strength usually. However, the real focus should be on single leg stuff with 10-30 repetitions:

    Steps ups (find a block or stair that is ~8" high, put one leg on it, and stand up, then go down)
    Step downs (standing on the block, facing down the stairs, step forward, touch your foot to the ground, with the other foot still on the block and then stand up again)
    Calf raises
    Leg swings sideways (standing, facing wall, both hands on wall, swing one leg out from vertical to maybe 60 degrees from horizontal)
    Leg swings forward-backward (standing, parallel to wall, one hand on wall, swing leg in front, and then in back)
    Lunges
    Strides
    Walk up stairs, 2 at a time
    Leg raises from prone (on your back)
    Leg raises from prone (on your side)
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  3. #3
    Run more. Iechine's Avatar
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    I encourage you to spend a lot of your time strengthening your core. If your legs are doing all the work then you have form issues. Regular squats have mostly cured me of knee imbalances and other form issues.
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  4. #4
    Registered User gatovolador's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Iechine View Post
    I encourage you to spend a lot of your time strengthening your core. If your legs are doing all the work then you have form issues. Regular squats have mostly cured me of knee imbalances and other form issues.
    For what it's worth no distance running coach I've ever talked to has advocated squats. I'm actually out of action for a bit because I haven't been doing single leg stuff and hurt my ankle, but I'll ask to the coach of the club I train with about this.
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  5. #5
    Run more. Iechine's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by gatovolador View Post
    For what it's worth no distance running coach I've ever talked to has advocated squats. I'm actually out of action for a bit because I haven't been doing single leg stuff and hurt my ankle, but I'll ask to the coach of the club I train with about this.
    What works for me may not work for others. I always had vmo issues.
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  6. #6
    Registered User Merra's Avatar
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    I recommend if you want to be a good runner that's what you should focus on, try to build yourself up to 45 minutes for an average run, it will take some time, but at 45 minutes your VO2max will increase, or your body will increase it's ability to process more oxygen at a time.

    My mother trains for marathons and is very competitive and all she does for training is running and her philosophy is to run every day try not to plan a day off but there will be days when you simply can't run. And it was the same way for my mother it was a long hard road but after 2 4th place finishes in the Boston Marathon she'll say it was well worth the effort.

    if your goal is to run a half marathon than there is very little need for upper body strength, and too much weight training will make you heavier so be cautious of weight training if a half marathon is your goal.
    Last edited by Merra; 01-10-2011 at 08:20 PM.
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  7. #7
    Registered User Runner99's Avatar
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    I'll second the advice to do squats. I've been fortunate enough to have trained under coaches that have helped me get national attention at the high school and collegiate level. Compound lifts (squats, dlifts, bb rows, pullups) with strict attention to form should be performed 1-2 times per week. Such "maitinence work" (as my coaches called it) will help strengthed the core (which improves running form/efficiency) and helps refuce the risk of injury when training at a high volume (by strengthening ligaments prone to inflammation due to running)
    You'll get the most of your gains on the roads and hills. Stay tough and train smart and you'll be hammering out times you didn't think possible
    GOOD LUCK!
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  8. #8
    Registered User sojulnip's Avatar
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    If you've been out of action for a very long time, the focus will be on stability.

    Do your front planks, side planks, back planks. You glute ham raises, prone bridges. Like many other members have suggested, plenty of single leg work, single leg squats, bulgarian squats (like a lunge, with the back foot elevated on a bench, swiss ball or TRX). Do your lunges, swiss ball squats (great for VMO recruitment).

    Also be sure to work on your upper body too. Long distance runners have a tendancy to protract their shoulder blades too much when the run and this is in ineffecient way to run and it's bad for your breathing also. Do some seated row, lat pull down, assisted chin ups (if possible), all focusing on stabilising the shoulders. Don't let them creep forward too much during these exercises, or creep too high during vertical pulling such as chin ups and lat pull downs. Runners often neglect the upper body, and it is much more important than one thinks. The arms don't just give you balance, they are connect to your legs through fascial connections. Sound like science-fiction? It's not. The core is the connection between the upper and lower body and that's why it's so important for it to be strong.

    I'll sum up this, focus on the core (don't do crunches ever), focus on activating and using your glutes, single leg work is essential, and work on shoulder blade stability.
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  9. #9
    Registered User Katie9's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your advice. I have added strength training three times a week to my program, incorporating many of the exercises suggested. I am focusing primarily on strengthening my core, but I am doing some work on legs and arms. I'm most definitely not worried about putting on too much muscle. At this point, I could use more muscle and a lower body fat percent.
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