Strength training, core work, plyos, drills, and a cherry on top… how much faster do these extras really make us?
For how much I love running, I’m not as studied-up on the literature as I could be. You know: Lydiard and Daniels and Salazar and so on, and the varying training styles people love to argue about on letsrun.
Perpetually behind the times, I recently acquired an abandoned dog-eared 2009 issue of Runner’s World that had a feature on Kara Goucher’s Boston Marathon training regimen. [Yeah yeah yeah, we’re all aware there is a camp of self-important individuals who feel the need to throw copious amounts of haterade at Runner’s World every chance they get, but if you’re not averse to dismounting your high horse and ignoring the “Beginning Runners” training plans or whatever else might offend the senses of people who consider themselves serious, RW can be an enjoyable resource with thought-provoking features. At least, from my rookie perspective.]
Anyway, I paged through the feature on Kara and took some mental notes:
In addition to her 100+ miles in prep for Boston, the article claimed that she tucked two sessions of Pilates, 2-3 strength training workouts, and 2+ stints of plyometrics or drills into her weekly regimen. In other words, lots of extra stuff that isn’t the running itself.
Of course, those are just the basics, and don’t include her weight vest, sauna suit, ice vest, pressurized bedroom, alter-G treadmill, massage therapist, sports psychologist, and a host of other irritating ways to complicate running that a nobody like me will never have to worry about. Thankfully.
Even so, reading about all her strength, plyos and Pilates got my wheels spinning that I should reintroduce strength/core work into my training. Especially now that I’m not cross-training, and can no longer count on the sneaky back/core/leg strengthening I used to get from rowing.
All these extras, though, sheesh. Are they even worth it? How much does a horrifically average runner like me need, if all I really want to do is… get as fast as I can, within my means? Couldn’t I just get by on… you know… running? With perhaps a sprinkling of planks and pushups as post-run garnishes here and there? And hill workouts for leg strength?
Kim Smith, who ran a 2:25 at London this year, seems to take a much more basic approach to her training than Kara, and I’ve read elsewhere that KS doesn’t do much in the way of extra strength or core work – although that could obviously just be some major sandbagging on her part. Debates on the effectiveness of strength training, etc. for runners can be extensive, and I know there are plenty of elites who subscribe to including all the extras, and plenty of other elites who don’t bother with it.
Do you strength train or include specific plyometrics/drills as a regular part of your routine? I loved the Washington Ran Here post on drills from awhile back, and if I can sucker up the gumption to not worry about looking like a doofus on the road outside my house, I’d like to start incorporating some of those into my plan.
What does your strength/core/drills routine look like? How often, how long?
How effective do you think the “extras” are? Have you noticed any tangible gains from introducing strength training, plyos, etc. into your schedule? I suppose that the “extras” might be useful in the way of injury prevention, but other than that, I’m suspicious.
Truly, all I’m looking for here is permission to be a lazy bum and cut any significant amounts of strength training out of the picture. And I’d really love to hear a little more about what other runbloggers do on a regular basis in the way of the “extras.” (Links to your specific posts on this subject are great if you don’t feel like going into detail in the comments.)
As a frame of reference: our core work and strength training for college rowing was probably a far sight more intense than what I imagine the typical runner might require. I could be totally off base with assuming that, but from what I’ve read, most runners’ strength training sessions don’t seem all that intimidating. Basically, I have no idea what an appropriate amount of strength training + “extras” would be for a runner. Any thoughts from the former college-runner crowd? What did your “non-running extras” routine look like?