When I started my half marathon training, I began a strength training program specifically for runners. I revisited a book I’d reviewed years ago, Quick Strength for Runners; this time doing the training program to a T. It’s an 8-week program, and at first, the workouts seemed easy. They started at roughly 10 minutes, twice a week — three times if you had the time. As the program progressed, though, the difficulty crept up. The workouts were longer and more challenging. But most importantly, I could feel myself getting stronger. I could see my progress from one week to the next. I started grabbing heavier weights. And I could see the muscles.
In fact, my mom commented that I was looking strong, and it was seriously the best compliment. Screw looking thin or looking like I’d lost weight. I looked strong — and after seriously working for it, it was nice that I wasn’t the only one who’d noticed!
After I completed the program, I started thinking about how I’ve worked out in the past. A lot of times I’m happy just to be staying active, doing something. After all, something is better than nothing, even if you’re not following a program. There is a lot of value in doing different activities to keep challenging your body in different ways, keeping your body guessing from one workout to the next. But I was reminded again how valuable a well-planned strength training program is.
I think a lot of us fall into the trap of mindlessly doing workouts. But to really see progress, you have to push yourself. You have to keep moving that bar and challenging yourself to keep getting stronger. If you’ve been lifting those same 5-pound dumbbells for the last few years, it’s time to step it up. Grab those 8s. Then the 10s. You’ll be surprised at how high you can go. You might even have to give up the pretty colored dumbbells altogether.
Do you follow a set strength program or are you happy to just get in 10 minutes of anything? —Erin