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.

10 Responses

  1. King deadlift? Isn’t that just a (very impressive) single leg squat?

    I like the trunk rotation. Anything which strengthens the core is going to help the running. There are some pilates movements that are especially good for this, and probably not as awkward as a seated ab crunch.

    • I know the term “king deadlift” from a weight training book we have. But, yes, it’s basically a one legged squat with opposite leg in front, whereas the first one listed is the same deal, but with the opposite leg in front.

      As for core work, I’m aware of all of them and all manner of how to do them (mat, big inflatable ball, machine). I just hate doing them.

  2. I’m impressed that you’re actually getting your money’s worth out of the Bowflex! Looks like a solid workout and I have the same thoughts about doing my own meager amount of upper body stuff, it’ll help racing when the going gets tough and the body’s reaction is to start slunking down. Great job, Julie.

  3. I used to have a BowFlex at my teeny tiny one-room gym in my college apartment, and REALLY loved it. I found it to be just as effective as free weights, and it’s a really handy and compact package. I’d definitely consider getting one once I move out of the city and into a real house.

  4. Honestly, core work, single leg squats, and balance exercises saved my running career.

    I have the hardest time working any sort of “weight training” into my running schedule, but when tricky knee or lower leg issues creep on me, those exercises bail me out.

  5. Thanks and so i can see what you means whit weight!.
    Your works outs are good and only the free weights it is importend your body position is oké…
    When i run a lot(marathon, ultra) i have a pain in the arms,neck, shoulders and back. The back is a importend thing to train for your upper body.

    So i do the upper body, back and (oblique) abdominal muscles…But not so heavy weights, only for training and for running.

    And are you too heavy????

    Thanks for this blog.

  6. Lifting is awesome, but be careful. My downfall was a terrible back injury caused by a heavy squat. At age 19, I pretty much had to stop all athletic activity for years and recover.

    Also, I think you should go even more old school than bowflex and get a soloflex! that guy in the commercial looked awesome!

    • Graham, I’m actually afraid of doing traditional barbell squats because of the potential for back injury. I’m only less slightly afraid of deadlifts for the same reason. I know they’re probably the two best weight exercises you can do, but I avoid them anyway.

      I think the Bowflex is what the Soloflex used to be called. Either way, I’ll never look like the people in those ads. Certainly not in “just 20 minutes a day, three times a week!”

  7. Mmmm, pistol squat.

    I think that might be what you call a “king squat”. When you’re fully down you look like a pistol. 🙂

    How to build up to it:

    Have fun! For now, I’ll stick with my hot yoga.

  8. I hate doing any sort of gym exercise like this and, therefore, almost never do. I typicall only use them as a stress release for when I can’t run. Good for you in keeping them up — All the material out there that I find points to it being very beneficial to have the stronger core & upper body.

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