Something I probably shouldn’t admit: My twice-weekly strength-training sessions have been my favorite part of my half-marathon prep. This is likely because I have a long-held dream of doing a pushup (like a real proper one on my toes and with perfect form). I’m getting close to that goal—I just self-tested behind my desk and managed three with OK form—but I seriously noticed the difference during this week’s LSD (that’s long, slow distance) run.
On Thursday morning, I knocked off 23 km, the longest run that I ever have/will do. My old self would have been slouched down, dragging my legs like deadweights, and willing a kind family to kidnap me. That last part was still fairly true, but every time these desperate anything but another step thoughts cropped up, I focused on my form. With the sun on my back, I used my shadow in front of me to check out my posture. It turns out, standing up straight and dropping my shoulders can change how confident I feel, and thus hush my mental babble… for at least 60 seconds at a time.
It’s all about body awareness, says Nike trainer Britt Hern (she loves the Body Flexor 2.0 strength workout from the relaunched Nike+ Training Club app as cross-training for runners). She explained that lifting weights demands that you pay attention to your breathing and how your muscles are working, important abilities for running too, obvs. It’s true. When I’m struggling out on the pavement, I exhale sharply the way I would when trying to thrust a dumbbell over my head. It releases my tension and slows down my panting.
I also felt stronger because, well, I am. Thanks to all those planks and mountain climbers, my lower back doesn’t get sore during lengthy jogs any more. All the chest presses and back rows stop me from slumping once the 10-km mark hits. It’s easy to think running is all about legs, but, judging by the fact that I couldn’t hold my hairdryer up yesterday, I can confirm that it really is a whole body workout. And the stronger you are, the better you’ll do.
Catch up with Caitlin:
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 1
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 2
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 3
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 4
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 5
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 6