Back to Basics. And The Gym.

My IT Band issues came on without warning during my first marathon. At mile 22 or something, I found I had stabby pain in my knee and I couldn’t run through it.

I was sidelined that fall, which totally sucked. I went to doctors and a physical therapist who told me I needed to rest it. Which made no sense to me. There was a REASON why running made my IT Band hurt. And stopping running wouldn’t really help me figure out that reason.

Then I found the BEST physical therapist EVER, who helped me both figure out the root cause of my injury (weak hips, weak and tight back, tight calves) AND designed a strength training program to fix it.

I hit the gym 2-3 times a week that winter, spring, and fall. And the following year, I found myself posting MUCH faster splits in speedwork than I had ever imagined possible.

I PRed nearly every race I ran in 2013 as a result. And I ran my second marathon and was uninjured at the end.

I have not been as good with the strength work this year. It’s partly a function of time; I run 6 days a week, and it’s hard to fit in additional time for a workout when you’re already devoting an hour of your day to running. I dislike the treadmill, which is really the most efficient way to get a run AND strength session in.

And if I’m being honest, really, I just prefer to run. I love the simplicity of lacing up my sneakers and heading out of my front door.

But.

I’ve also been dealing with some achilles tweaks this year; remnants of a half marathon run on a sprained ankle in 2012 (still totally worth it, one of the best races I ran with my friend Heather that year!) and then some Bad Choices in the aftermath: I didn’t really let it heal, just kept running on it… I also did not spend any amount of time trying to rehab it.

I am pretty sure it was a full year – which I spent running on it – before I could actually point my toe and flex my foot without pain.

(Yeah. Bad Choices, physically speaking, at any rate. Mentally and emotionally, though, I NEEDED those runs.)

Anyway, I’ve had some achilles trouble with that ankle recently. It’s not QUITE an injury, but one of those issues that screams, Take care of me before I TURN into injury!

So last week, I decided that I needed to incorporate strength sessions into my weeks again. It’s the off-season (though really, I haven’t had a “season” since May!). Right now my focus is on base mileage – keeping my runs easy and mileage around 35-40 miles a week – and strength sessions twice a week.

I don’t love doing squats and lunges and deadlifts and roman chair work and core work and planks and wall sits. But they are good for me, and I’m convinced they help me run faster. And stronger.

So that’s what I’m doing on the off season this year.

Even though I’m still not entirely sure of what my goals are for next year. 🙂

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