If you loathe every moment you spend at the gym, you are not alone – but it is possible to shift your mindset.
Meghan asks: I despise strength training and find it boring, but I know it’s important. Is there anything I can do to enjoy it more?
Step one is to understand that you’re not alone. Runners love logging kilometres, and for some, anything that takes time away from straight-up running can feel like an obstacle rather than an asset. Still, there are a variety of ways to learn to embrace strength training. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Reframe Your Mindset
You brush your teeth to avoid tooth decay, right? Strength training is also a preventative measure — one that keeps injuries away by balancing your body’s musculature. Think of it as a healthy habit that will help you run with less risk of injury and perhaps even improve your performance.
If you’re not loving your strength routine, maybe it’s because it’s not challenging enough. Go all-in and dedicate two days per week to completing a strength-training workout at the gym, doing a DVD like IronStrength for Runners, or working with a personal trainer. You’ll be challenged to push beyond your comfort zone, stimulated by the variety, and motivated by the improvements you’ll see and feel in a matter of weeks.
Another way to go is to do a little running-specific strength work (like the Myrtl Routine – watch the video on YouTube) before or after three of your runs during the week. The routine combines 12 exercises for hip strength and mobility (a common problem area) and does it in just five minutes. Like brushing your teeth, it becomes routine and a regular part of your running regimen rather than one more thing you have to add to your to-do list.
Create your own high-intensity workout by doing five to eight strength exercises during a run. I did this at the peak of my adventure-racing years to boost strength, power, and fitness outside of the gym, and to learn how to get back into a controlled running effort after the strength exercises (like surges in a race). After your warm up, sprinkle in walking lunges, squat jumps, step-ups or stairs, pushups, lateral lunges, dips, skipping, and wall sits followed by four to eight minutes of running at an easy to moderate effort.
Just like your running training, strength training should ebb and flow throughout the seasons. If you’re peaking for a marathon, running is your primary activity, while strength training is secondary — it’s a good time to learn the Myrtl Routine. While in the off-season or winter months, you can go bigger and dedicate two workouts per week to taking a class or doing IronStrength.
The secret is to reframe your mindset, weave it into your running life like a partner, and keep it fresh. You may never come to love strength training, but you may find that you like the benefits it provides for your running performance.