I am runner. I run for fun, I run for speed, I run to challenge myself and I run for adrenaline.
This year, I took on my second marathon and completed my fastest half marathon to date. This was not by luck or by chance.
Coming off an injury where I was forced to take six months off, I took a whole new approach to running. I decided to increase my strength training. While our legs carry us through our run, our core muscles, breathing, headspace and posture also take on a huge role.
As a personal trainer, I’ve familiar with the gym, but this was my first time setting a strength training goal related to running. I found a fellow personal trainer and explained my goal: to increase the muscle mass in my legs.
We trained twice a week, with long runs on Sundays and a 30 to 45 minute run once or twice a week. The long runs became easy. My legs were never tired and my body was never sore.
The training paid off. In October, I came first in the inaugural Baldy Marathon with a time of 4:08 on a course that was a mix of roads, trails and sand. I then followed up with a personal best of 1:45 in the Seattle Half Marathon, a notoriously hilly course that leaves many runners shattered, both physically and emotionally.
I did a few things differently this time around, versus the other marathons and half marathons I have run in the past. Based on this experience, here is my advice to other runners:
• Feed your body with the food that it needs rather than the food it might want. I followed a whole foods diet, skipping the post-race snacks and goodies that I used to indulge in.
• Invest time in strength training. I spent three days a week working on increasing muscle mass and strength in my quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes. If you are following a running-only plan and wondering how to achieve a higher personal best, strength training could be the answer. Follow a plan or hire a trainer to work on your strength and mobility to complement your running goals.
• Cross train with a spin class or an outdoor bike ride. It’s a great way to flush the lactic acid out your legs after a long run.
• Stretch often and if you can, see a registered massage therapist during your training. If you feel any pulls or tightness in your legs, address the problem instead of continuing to run. Prevent injuries early on by listening to your body.
If you’re looking to speed up your race time or decrease your recovery time, consider adding strength training to your current cardio routine.