As An Endurance Athlete, I Just Need to Continue Doing 3 Sets of 10 to Improve My Strength, RIGHT???
As we mentioned last week, as athletes and individuals we need to have some level of ability in order to complete an activity such as running or even walking without adverse effects. The amount of gradual stress you apply to your system will allow you to get stronger and stronger...to a point.
Strength is a key component of all activities. Strength allows us to perform activities easier and take less energy in order to do so. All athletes need strength in order to excel in their sports. Without the appropriate strength to perform at a certain skill level, you could be getting yourself into trouble at some point. Tendonitis, joint pain, and irritation of other tissues becomes pretty common at this point as altered form and function provide unbalanced stress. Maintaining strength during your late training and in season are key while enhancing strength in the off season and early to mid preseason are key.
Following this above paragraph is where some athletes and even the active population in general falter. And those who do follow this can sometimes not be doing enough. Different types of strength training will work to a point. Most athletes in endurance sports will resort to body weight activities. Don't get me wrong...there is nothing wrong with body weight exercises. However, if you are missing out on resistance training using therabands and/or weights then you could be missing a good deal of strength. As endurance athletes, especially as runners, it sometimes relies on us being unilateral in nature. Runners will never have both feet on the ground at the same time. We are going from one foot, quickly getting off of that foot and then landing on the other foot before repeating the cycle. We are absorbing and then producing A LOT of force in order to do that. Therefore you need to make sure you not only have single leg strengthening activities but also unilateral strengthening activities.
Now if we refer back to the amount of forces that we need to absorb and then rebound from to get to the next step, research says we experience up to 4x body weight. That's A LOT. Right?!?! So then why do people do themselves a disservice by only doing the minimum??? The reasons why people do this is from a number of things which include: not feeling like they have the time, not having the appropriate knowledge to do resistance training, feeling like they will get bulky from doing strength training thus decreasing performance, and/or feel like it is worth it and would rather add in an extra cardio day. Time is limited. I get it. Time is one of the most valuable things that we have in life. For this, I will tie two of the above reasons for not wanting to be strength training as an endurance athlete. Athletes feel like they need to get the mileage in and therefore need to balance between the rest of their life and their athletic life. Time runs out pretty quickly sometimes. But that doesn't mean strength training should slip. Being able to do the miles and be strong while doing it are both as equally important. That is why balance is key. In most cases, I would rather you miss a running or cycling day to do strength training if you are sparse for time. Because if you skip strength training enough, you will be spending much less time running/cycling/etc. and more time sitting on the sidelines instead with injury.
Strength training does require some level of knowledge to ensure you are doing it right and completing each movement appropriately. Its the same thing with running. Nobody teaches us, we just do it. Therefore, strength training does require the time for you to learn how to incorporate it appropriately. Therefore, getting in front of and working with a professional to initially teach you (at a minimum) before continuing and progressing to your goals, possibly on your own is highly recommended. Does this add another factor and additional cost to your training season, yes. However, it will save you in the long run with the medical bills and time missed training in the long run. When choosing a professional to help educate you, please make sure they have enough knowledge to not only train you to do the movements but be able to choose the movements that are best for you based on your current athletic and injury history. As endurance athletes, we feel we need to be lean and not bulky to carry ourselves far distances in relative short periods of time. Soooo....won't strengthening with resistance make me bulky???...NOPE!!! When applied with the appropriate parameters even lifting heavy, heavy weights will not make you bulky. This is speaking to you too ladies. Strength training with resistance has been shown through multiple forms of research that it will not only help prevent overuse injuries (i.e., stress fractures - as long as nutrition and all other forms of training are kept in check) but it will also help stave off osteopenia and osteoporosis as you get older.
Helping to recap this all together as a simple, easy to follow tips from everything discussed above...just remember: