Weight work

Rinus asked recently what I mean by “Weights” in my training logs.

I’ve had an on again/off again relationship with weight training for several years. It’s come down to a question of time and energy. When I have both, I do weight work in addition to running. When I lack one, the other or both, I drop the weights (so to speak).

Since I’ve been on the road to recovery over the past month or so (and trying to lose some, uh, weight — to further confuse this post and its readers), I’ve certainly had an abundance of time and, at least in the past couple of weeks, energy as well. So I’ve dusted off the weights until such time as the running takes over everything once again.

I should come clean right now and say that I rarely lift actual weights. I’m one of those hapless souls who fell for the 3AM Bowflex ad. Yes, I bought a Bowflex. But I’m sure I’m in the extremely small minority of Bowflex owners who actually uses the thing for something other than a temporary resting place for laundry or mail. (I also didn’t opt for the 80 year financing plan where you pay $0.90 a month for the rest of your natural days.) I also have a set of free weights (and a basic bench that a neighbor threw away). Jonathan uses those, but I don’t bother.

Purists will chirp that the Bowflex is not the same as weights. With weights you are working throughout the entire motion and using lots of other muscles to assist and stabilize the target muscles. I know all this. I don’t care. If I was serious about weight training I wouldn’t be a runner.

So here’s what I do with the Bowflex. Two to three times per week (at least for the moment), I perform the following exercises:

That’s it! I used to do something called the “seated ab crunch” but it’s incredibly awkward and I found that I was ending up with an iffy neck the next day. So if I do ab work these days (which is rare, since it’s tedious and painful), I hit the floor mat.

I do these exercises because in any race over about 15 miles I find that I start to have “upper body fatigue” issues. There is enough misery to deal with below the waist in a marathon. I figure if I can make my upper body a non-issue then that’s one less source of angst on race day. I only do seven exercises because that’s manageable. It’s enough that I hit the major areas of my upper body, but not so many that it’s easy for me to bail on the workout because there’s too much to do. If I’m tired or don’t have a lot of time, I’ll do two sets instead of three.

Before I got above 60mpw last week I was doing some leg exercises in addition to the upper body sets. These were all free standing exercises, meaning I didn’t use free weights or the Bowflex. Just me fighting gravity. These included:

  • Single leg squat
  • King deadlift (I can’t go as low as this freak of nature amazing woman can)
  • Hamstring dip [No video — raise one foot slightly off the ground, then bend forward at the waist and touch your toes]
  • Balancing on one foot with eyes closed (this is a lot harder than it sounds)

I’ve dropped the leg work for the time being because it’s very hard work and I feel it for several days afterwards. So much so that I believe it has a deleterious effect on my running. Were I running lower mileage, I’d keep these as a regular thing. But now that I’m heading back up into 90mpw territory, it makes no sense to do anything other than running for my legs.