August 25, 2011

Guest post: Strength training

Reading one of my recent posts, Mindy Olson asked if I was doing any strength training as it has been something that has benefited her marathon preparations. Running a 3:15:38 in the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May (4th in F40-44 and 10th female overall), Mindy has been working hard with her coach Steve Di Tomaso (who incidentally is making his debut at Ironman Canada this weekend, good luck Steve!). 

Since Mindy shared quite a few long runs with Steve in the lead-up to Ironman Canada, she decided she might as well put that training to good use at the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon in October. Mindy and I haven't met, but I expect we will in Victoria. 

Here's a post by Mindy about her strength training:  

Mindy  (Amy Judd/The Times)
When Steve first approached me in March of this year I was doing weights 2x a week in the gym. I basically had been doing this for years just to stay toned. I kind of just went from machine to machine and never really changed it up.

He basically convinced me that I was wasting my time and that if I was on the right program I would see huge results in my strength and running. He put me through an assessment and then drew up my program based on what my weakness areas were.

The first thing I was introduced to was the foam roller. I use it before and after working out.  Before a workout it helps to decrease muscle density and after strenuous work-outs it aids in recovery. I love it and could not live without it now! 

Basically each phase of my program starts with a series of warm-up exercises called Mobility Activation and Mv-Prep which address areas of weakness that are determined from the assessment. My glutes were a big one for me. I was over-compensating with my thighs and knees so we really concentrated on certain exercises that would fire up my “ butt”. 

Next we moved to core training. He told me I had to give up all my favourite crunches as they are horrible for the spine. I now do many variations of the plank and other abdominal exercises which never involve a crunch. My abdominal area has never been so strong and these exercises are much easier on your back. 

We then did Elasticity and sport-specific exercises in phase one and power development in phase two. These included lots of upper body work with kettle bells and lots of jumping (on and off benches) with a quiet landing.

The last section is Resistance training where I really use my glutes and upper body. We do tons of variations of squats, lunges, pushups, chin-ups, deadlifts, TRX and kettle bell exercises.  Currently I have added single-leg exercises which are helping to strengthen my hips and knees.  They are extremely hard but they sure target these areas. 

In the last 6 months I have not once used a machine and with so many new exercises I certainly don’t miss that type of workout. I have now strengthened,and will continue to strengthen, the muscles I use for running. Now after a long run my glutes are sore instead of just my thighs and calves which tells me I am finally using these muscles. 

With added upper body strength I don’t feel the fatigue as much when I hit the 30km mark and my arm swing feels much stronger. My arm swing is something I really have had to concentrate on and it’s finally coming along. My speed sessions are definitely getting faster and I’m getting farther up the hill on repeats. In general I just feel so much stronger when running.

I have to say that Steve Di Tomaso is hugely knowledgeable in his field and I trusted him completely which is very important when choosing a trainer. He also runs with me 2-3x a week which has also been very beneficial. The last thing he has convinced me to do is change from a fully cushioned shoe to a more minimal running shoe. I’m loving the lighter feel and it definitely makes you feel faster!

Mindy's usual schedule:
Mon: 7.5km run. Then I go to the gym and do strength for about -1/2hr which includes a 15min. warmup and 10min rollout.
Tues: 40min powerwalk to warm up, meet friends for hill training session of about 14.5km.
Wed: 6km run, followed by 1-1/2hr of strength.
Thurs: 40 min power walk, by tempo or speed training with friends at the track or dikes of about 12km.
Fri: No run. Used to do spinning class. Now: strength day with 40min walk as warm-up. Then 2-3 weeks before the marathon I go back to 2 days in weight room & back to spinning my legs out.
Saturday: Long run: if training for a race, 19 to 35km. When not training, 13-18km.
Sunday: 13.5km run.

Thanks so much for sharing Mindy. Good luck with the rest of the Victoria Marathon training!

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