Make me a better runner: Boxing (Part 3)

‘Strength training: bleurgh.’ That’s what many runners think when advised to add this into their regime.

If you wanted to throw weights around and parade around flexing your guns you’d be in front of mirror right now, wearing fingerless gloves, a back support and squeezing the steel while grunting like Paris Hilton in one of her more unsavoury videos, right?

But you don’t. You want to run. To feel free, enjoying the feeling of your limbs moving in beautiful synchronicity as you eat up miles and miles of countryside/high street/out of town ring road [delete as appropriate].

Well, of course you could stick to only doing that but the evidence is that not only you’re your improvement plateau out, but sooner or later you’re going to get injured. So you need to build a body that’s fit for purpose, as my boxing coach Cathy Brown made abundantly clear to me.

 ‘The reason why boxers hit the weights room is obvious,’ she says, ‘but the physiology is simple: ‘the stronger your legs, the longer and stronger your stride, therefore resulting in more power with less effort. And THAT means faster times.

‘Added to this is the injury prevention angle: working on your lower body will strengthen your ligaments, tendons and joints to reduce weakness caused by constant pounding on hard and uneven surfaces. You’ll also get the muscles stronger around the joints, which will enable you to better cope with any changing fluctuations in running surface or having to change direction quickly.’

A lot of runners feel weights will slow them down, but ‘weights’ as a general concept will not slow you down. It depends on a number of variables such as:

-the types of exercises

the weight lifted

-the number of reps and sets

-the frequency of your sessions

Cathy recommends periodising your strength regime, which means doing different types of training at different points in the calendar, instead of doing the same workout over and over again. For example, it’s best to do heavy weights to build strength STRENGTH at the beginning of your training, before changing it up nearer to race day and doing more explosive light work to give you speed.

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