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Runner’s withdrawal, concurrent strength & endurance training

September 27, 2011

Since I started back up into a gym habit, I’ve been working out a lot. But I haven’t been running.

When I lived in the US, about 6 months before I moved to Italy, I ran a half-marathon. I grew up playing soccer and field hockey, so running around wasn’t something new, but running continuously, somewhere, was. I never thought I would run a half-marathon, and after the death of my grandmother in 2001, who was confined to a wheelchair after breaking her hip, I felt the need to reinforce and express my own health. Through running. I started running often and then I set a goal.

I picked the (1st ever!) San Francisco US Half Marathon in 2002. It was the first one that would cross the Golden Gate bridge, and I trained by myself with a schedule I had found on the internet. I loved my long runs, most of which I did at Sawyer Camp Trail in Hillsborough, CA and even the (Bay to Golden Gate) Bridge to Bridge, and shorter runs I would just step outside my door, and go. The San Francisco Bay Area is a beautiful place to run.

I didn’t know anyone else running that day. My mom and stepfather came up to cheer me on and carb-loaded with me the night before. I wore bib #45. And I finished in 2:06. Almost ten years later, I thought I made up that time, because it’s almost 30 seconds faster/mile than I was training at. But thanks to the Internet, I found proof:

This is me when it was all said and done – I couldn’t wait to eat Thai food after!

Now that I’m more in shape, I still haven’t started running as much as I used to. Partly because there’s not much running culture or year-round running weather in Italy (I even keep a list of running events in Italy updated), and I don’t want to be the freak on the street (people already stare a lot when I walk 200m to the gym in workout clothes), and partly because strength training can often put you at odds with running. One builds muscle fibers for endurance (marathons) and the other for short bursts of energy (weight lifting).

I’m not really convinced you can do both, well, so I would have to pick one or the other, and mix, but have a primary focus. (This study at Curtin University in Australia does a good job of summarizing the controversy of Concurrent Strength and Endurance Training)

But I miss the goal-oriented part of running, working towards something, and even picking out and traveling to races. And every healthy food blogger I read is running.

I don’t think the story ends here.

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Do you strength train? Do you run? Do you do both? How do you prefer to exercise those muscle fibers? 🙂 

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2011 5:43 pm

    Wow, that’s an awesome half-marathon pace. I’m a fitness runner (vs. a serious runner), but I just started following a training program. All of the books I’ve seen on running training have a “strength & speed” component, which isn’t weight lifting, but hill running, push-ups and sit-ups after running, plyometrics, that kind of thing. I’ve never thought about strength vs. endurance as a trade-off, but for me it comes down to how I want to spend the limited time I have for doing exercise-y stuff. For me, nothing beats the feeling of running. So much so, that on the “rest days” in my training regimen, I sometimes can’t help myself and go for a short run just to get out of the house.

    • September 27, 2011 9:27 pm

      Right, strength & speed is definitely different from weight lifting, which is why I’m running into a bit of a problem 🙂 I did do weights before the half-marathon, though probably not as much as I’m doing now, so maybe if I want it all I need to taper down a bit.

      I wish that I lived in the type of neighborhood where I could just go outside running… 😦

  2. Melanie permalink
    September 28, 2011 4:37 am

    You know I’m doing both and I credit the strength training to helping me finish my marathon as quickly as I did.

    • September 28, 2011 10:03 am

      @Melanie – How many days were you working out (runs + strength training) in the end? 5-6x a week?

  3. Erin Ressler permalink
    September 30, 2011 5:57 am

    We should do a race together one of these days!!! I just did my 3rd half this past May and am thinking about starting to train for another one soon.

    • September 30, 2011 10:36 am

      I doubt I can keep up at your pace, but carb-loading the night before, celebratory drinks after? Hell ya! You’ll have to pick a race over here or I’ll have to pick one in the US that coincides with an upcoming business trip (never say never) 🙂

  4. Bruna permalink
    September 30, 2011 9:38 am

    Sara, you’re in the wrong neighborhood. In the “Largo Marinai d’Italia” area lots of people go running around 6/7 in the morning. And I’ve some JUG colleagues that run. They prefer running because traveling a lot (consultants) they can run anywhere. I wish I could be so self-disciplined…

    • September 30, 2011 10:37 am

      Bruna, where is this place of which you speak! I want to go to there 🙂 There’s a mini-park near me that I could conceivably run around 25x to get in a long run but I would probably have to go to Parco Nord or further out. I need someone to make sure I don’t get mugged 🙂

  5. September 30, 2011 5:33 pm

    I do yoga plus body weight training and some running. I find that the yoga really balances out the weight training and running.

    • October 6, 2011 8:48 pm

      I haven’t really gotten into yoga (I’ve tried it) but my father actually does it every week. I may have to do it to stay flexible 🙂

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