Big, Fast, Strong

Everything about the training process, including programs, experiences, etc.

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La
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Big, Fast, Strong

Postby La » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:02 am

For those of us who are larger runners, I came across this blog post and interview about how being big doesn't mean we have to be slow. The guy being interviewed is someone who trains elite athletes like Ryan Lochte, so he's no slouch (and also big at 6'2", 280-lbs).

I was particularly intrigued by this comment:
That’s a mistake distance runners make [not doing heavy lifting]. The best strength gains are made at 5 reps and under. You don’t put size on with those numbers. You put size on with 8 to 12 reps. Running is running – it’s still force application whether it’s sprinting or distance. Watch a miler at the Olympics and how fast are they going? There’s a heck of a lot of force in that mile. They need to be strong. They need to be able to support that foot strike. You’re doing conditioning at track. The weight room should be about eliminating weakness and making athletes strong. Being a more efficient athlete and more efficient runner means you’re expending less energy and your times go down. Any strength exercise we do are 5 reps and under. If you want to wear a runner out, have them do 8 to 12 reps. You only have so much energy in your pie. If you’re taking more from the weight room, you’re stealing from the running.


http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tip ... ast-strong
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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby jes » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:35 am

La wrote:For those of us who are larger runners, I came across this blog post and interview about how being big doesn't mean we have to be slow. The guy being interviewed is someone who trains elite athletes like Ryan Lochte, so he's no slouch (and also big at 6'2", 280-lbs).

I was particularly intrigued by this comment:
That’s a mistake distance runners make [not doing heavy lifting]. The best strength gains are made at 5 reps and under. You don’t put size on with those numbers. You put size on with 8 to 12 reps. Running is running – it’s still force application whether it’s sprinting or distance. Watch a miler at the Olympics and how fast are they going? There’s a heck of a lot of force in that mile. They need to be strong. They need to be able to support that foot strike. You’re doing conditioning at track. The weight room should be about eliminating weakness and making athletes strong. Being a more efficient athlete and more efficient runner means you’re expending less energy and your times go down. Any strength exercise we do are 5 reps and under. If you want to wear a runner out, have them do 8 to 12 reps. You only have so much energy in your pie. If you’re taking more from the weight room, you’re stealing from the running.


http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tip ... ast-strong


Why does this only apply to larger runners?
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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby MikeM » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:06 am

That’s a mistake distance runners make [not doing heavy lifting]. The best strength gains are made at 5 reps and under. You don’t put size on with those numbers. You put size on with 8 to 12 reps. Running is running – it’s still force application whether it’s sprinting or distance. Watch a miler at the Olympics and how fast are they going? There’s a heck of a lot of force in that mile. They need to be strong. They need to be able to support that foot strike. You’re doing conditioning at track. The weight room should be about eliminating weakness and making athletes strong. Being a more efficient athlete and more efficient runner means you’re expending less energy and your times go down. Any strength exercise we do are 5 reps and under. If you want to wear a runner out, have them do 8 to 12 reps. You only have so much energy in your pie. If you’re taking more from the weight room, you’re stealing from the running.

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tip ... ast-strong


Mostly agree, although I'd say that sets of 5 or less take just as much energy from the pie since you should be increasing the weight as the reps go down. I've always found it really tough to find a balance between weights (lower body especially) and running.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby Joe Dwarf » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:35 am

Conventional wisdom is that low reps is for strength gain. When I was lifting I did 3 rep sets of everything, and periodized with number of sets. So a normal week would be 5 sets of 3, an easy week 3 sets, a hard week 7 sets. Worked like a charm for me. This was advice I got from a guy who did S&C coaching for the U of S wrestling team.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby ian » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:36 am

I'm skeptical. It's great that this guy has found a balance between heavy strength work and a bit of running (a couple of somewhat slow miles at a time, by the looks of it), but I think he is extrapolating wildly to claim that distance runners not doing heavy lifting is a mistake. In my experience, the big-but-not-slow runners tend to be well above average with their consistency, experience, racing smarts, and running form, all of which flow from running training.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby La » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:04 am

jes wrote:
La wrote:For those of us who are larger runners, I came across this blog post and interview about how being big doesn't mean we have to be slow. The guy being interviewed is someone who trains elite athletes like Ryan Lochte, so he's no slouch (and also big at 6'2", 280-lbs).

I was particularly intrigued by this comment:
That’s a mistake distance runners make [not doing heavy lifting]. The best strength gains are made at 5 reps and under. You don’t put size on with those numbers. You put size on with 8 to 12 reps. Running is running – it’s still force application whether it’s sprinting or distance. Watch a miler at the Olympics and how fast are they going? There’s a heck of a lot of force in that mile. They need to be strong. They need to be able to support that foot strike. You’re doing conditioning at track. The weight room should be about eliminating weakness and making athletes strong. Being a more efficient athlete and more efficient runner means you’re expending less energy and your times go down. Any strength exercise we do are 5 reps and under. If you want to wear a runner out, have them do 8 to 12 reps. You only have so much energy in your pie. If you’re taking more from the weight room, you’re stealing from the running.


http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tip ... ast-strong


Why does this only apply to larger runners?

Maybe not only to larger runners, but that was the question being posed (e.g., do larger runners necessarily need to be slower than their smaller counterparts?). Maybe it's more important for larger runners because we're moving more mass?
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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby La » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:08 am

ian wrote:I'm skeptical. It's great that this guy has found a balance between heavy strength work and a bit of running (a couple of somewhat slow miles at a time, by the looks of it), but I think he is extrapolating wildly to claim that distance runners not doing heavy lifting is a mistake. In my experience, the big-but-not-slow runners tend to be well above average with their consistency, experience, racing smarts, and running form, all of which flow from running training.

But isn't he simply saying that a strength program should be part of a running training program? And given that we all have a finite amount of time in a day/week/month to train, that it's not efficient to be spending too much time in the weight room at the expense of actual running? That's how I read it, anyway. :?
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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby Liam01 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:47 am

Joe Dwarf wrote:Conventional wisdom is that low reps is for strength gain. When I was lifting I did 3 rep sets of everything, and periodized with number of sets. So a normal week would be 5 sets of 3, an easy week 3 sets, a hard week 7 sets. Worked like a charm for me. This was advice I got from a guy who did S&C coaching for the U of S wrestling team.


Could you elaborate a little more on your schedule and maybe on the actual exercises you found most beneficial ? I want to incorporate some weight training in December/January while I am slacking off on the running a little...

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Big, Fast, Strong

Postby Jwolf » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:03 pm

I don't think the conclusion is that larger runners need to develop more muscle.

"Larger runners" in general tend to not be overly muscular, but tend to have excess body fat. Since he started as a body builder his body will stay at a high muscular level assuming he keeps it up. For most people losing weight means losing fat and that will make you faster.

I think the basic conclusion is simply that if you are larger due to higher muscle mass (vs body fat), it won't necessarily slow you down.
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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby ian » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:00 pm

La wrote:But isn't he simply saying that a strength program should be part of a running training program? And given that we all have a finite amount of time in a day/week/month to train, that it's not efficient to be spending too much time in the weight room at the expense of actual running? That's how I read it, anyway. :?

I'm seeing two possibly valid points in his argument:
(1) If you are combining strength training with sport-specific training (like running), it might be better to go with lower reps, not only because this can lead to better strength gains, but because it will reduce the recovery time.
(2) If by "distance running" he means anything longer than "sprinting" (i.e., even a one mile run is distance running), then yes, perhaps strength training is a useful supplement to the running training.

What I took issue to was his conviction that this one type of strength training was absolutely the way to go for any runner. Neither he nor the athletes he trains seem to be involved with running distances of even 10K, and the accumulated wisdom of all the athletes and coaches who have worked in the realm of distance running does not produce the same conclusion. The article states that his one mile PB is 7:38 (4:45/K). You've practically held that pace for 10K in the past (even setting aside age and gender differences), and I would regard you as a much better example of a big-but-not-slow runner than him.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby Joe Dwarf » Wed Dec 12, 2012 4:25 pm

Liam01 wrote:Could you elaborate a little more on your schedule and maybe on the actual exercises you found most beneficial ? I want to incorporate some weight training in December/January while I am slacking off on the running a little...
Well, my routine was geared towards 3 sports at the time (judo, kendo, snowboarding), none of which were running so it might not be all that beneficial to you. But for what it's worth, IIRC for the 3-rep weighted stuff I was doing dumbell squat to press, single-handed dumbell snatches, turkish get-ups and squat machine squats (no access to barbells). I was also doing bodyweight stuff: hindu squats, hindu pushups, bridges, wall sits, dips and pull-ups. The bodyweight stuff was every workout, the weight stuff was split on alternate days, squat to press & snatch one day ("speed" day), turkish get-up and squat the other ("strength" day). As I said before, 3 reps/set, one minute rest between sets. I'd do the dip/pull-up/wall site combo as a super-set, so like dips, pullups, wall sit, 1 minute break, rinse, lather, repeat. Hindu squats, situps and bridges were another superset ("royal court", you can google it). The bodyweight stuff had more reps of each individual exercise, for example, maybe 20 hindu squats then 10 pushups then a 30 sec bridge.

The periodization was ABBCA, where A is a light week (3 sets (or supersets) of each exercise), B is normal (5 sets) and C is a hard week (7 sets). I was doing this 3 times a week. I never did get much bigger but I got surprisingly strong, and it was usable strength due to all the exercises being whole-body coordinated stuff, not isolation exercises.

In recent years I have concentrated on running and haven't been in the gym hardly at all. It's a trade-off for sure: marathon running leans you out, not to mention taking all the time/energy you might have put into weights. I was a lot stronger 5 years ago than I am now, but not nearly as good a runner.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby MichaelMc » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:59 pm

We seem to have multiple discussion points going, so I'll put my 2 cents in on a few.

I think strength training can be useful for distance runners IF they have all the rest of their training in order. I see lots of people trading weekly mileage or speedwork for weights and that is a poor trade off for distance running results. Power is an important component, and heavy lifting can help in strengthening muscles and also in promoting recruitment of more muscle fibres (so physical and neuromuscular benefits). The author's examples are poor because frankly it would seem he doesn't know much about running. Steve Magness, who DOES know a lot about running is a big fan of low rep power training for distance runners. I find Steve interesting, even though I strongly disagree with some of his ideas.

I was a wrestler and a power lifter before I ran. Extremely low reps is the preferred solution for power gains, but I find most people do better in the 5 Rep range than the "ideal" 1-4 range. It takes a pretty well trained lifter to get so close to their true 1 rep max with proper form, plus you need to be WELL warmed up. 1 minute rest would be completely against this principle, by the way: no way you can get near full recovery. Powerlifters will take 5 minutes between sets on average so they can truly exert full power again (which is the point).

And no, I don't think it has any more (or less) relevance to heavier runners.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby La » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:27 am

ian wrote:The article states that his one mile PB is 7:38 (4:45/K). You've practically held that pace for 10K in the past (even setting aside age and gender differences), and I would regard you as a much better example of a big-but-not-slow runner than him.

Surely "you" doesn't mean me, specifically! :lol: It's been several years since I've been able to run even 5:10/km for longer than 5K. ;) That said, I should test myself for a 1-mile repeat and see what I can do.

I think a better example of a "big but fast" guy is Mark. I mean, he's not BIG big, but he's not the typical 5'10" 150-pound runner, either. A guy built like Mark ran past me on Sunday morning. He seemed to be flying, but it looked effortless for him. It's not so much that I am trying to be "faster" (though I am), I'm trying to expend less effort on my runs (and get faster that way).
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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby ian » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:12 am

La wrote:
ian wrote:The article states that his one mile PB is 7:38 (4:45/K). You've practically held that pace for 10K in the past (even setting aside age and gender differences), and I would regard you as a much better example of a big-but-not-slow runner than him.

Surely "you" doesn't mean me, specifically! :lol: It's been several years since I've been able to run even 5:10/km for longer than 5K. ;) That said, I should test myself for a 1-mile repeat and see what I can do.

I think a better example of a "big but fast" guy is Mark. I mean, he's not BIG big, but he's not the typical 5'10" 150-pound runner, either. A guy built like Mark ran past me on Sunday morning. He seemed to be flying, but it looked effortless for him. It's not so much that I am trying to be "faster" (though I am), I'm trying to expend less effort on my runs (and get faster that way).

I did (mean you), but you're right that there are a few good examples on this board. That's part of the reason I didn't take too well to the certainty with which the guy in the original article could claim to have the answer for becoming a better runner, especially when he used his own unremarkable results as proof of his methods.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby phorunner » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:17 am

This is encouraging. I've been looking at adding some weight training, and this was in line with what I was planning to do anyway. Good to know.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby Joe Dwarf » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:31 am

MichaelMc wrote:It takes a pretty well trained lifter to get so close to their true 1 rep max with proper form
I wasn't working anywhere close to my 1RM. What my coach had me do for weight selection was find the heaviest I could still lift smoothly with some acceleration and then use 85% of that for a working weight. All the exercises were to be done explosively, because the goal was to develop that kind of power for the lunges and throws required in kendo and judo. For example, the squat machine was one of the ones where you lay on a slight incline and push against a platform that slides you up rather than your body staying stationary. He had me accelerating hard from ass-to-grass to extended such that my feet came off the platform, and I would have to catch myself and the weight on the way down. Dumbell snatches he wanted so much acceleration that I had to keep the weight from flying up further at the top. So definitely not 1RM, grunt it into place kind of motion.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby Jwolf » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:32 am

La wrote:
ian wrote:The article states that his one mile PB is 7:38 (4:45/K). You've practically held that pace for 10K in the past (even setting aside age and gender differences), and I would regard you as a much better example of a big-but-not-slow runner than him.

Surely "you" doesn't mean me, specifically! :lol: It's been several years since I've been able to run even 5:10/km for longer than 5K. ;) That said, I should test myself for a 1-mile repeat and see what I can do.


Not a 1-mile repeat-- a 1-mile time trial as fast as you can go. Your 5:10/km for 5K is roughly equivalent to his 7:38-mile. So Ian's comment is valid. :)
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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby Dstew » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:38 am

My 2 cents:

I consider myself one of the "bigger" runners at 5'11" and 200 pounds so I do believe that there has to be some accommodation for that size or at least in my case there has to be. There are no doubt larger runners who do not need to do any weights or cross training and can optimize their running with pure running. Again, I am not one of those people.

Having said that, I think there is an argument for periodization for lack of a better term. That is when one is not specifically preparing or peaking for a race, the focus on weights as suggested may be the right way to go. That is what I am doing now. For me, I need the extra muscle and support for the pounding my body takes due to not only my size but I suspect also due to my running form. My plan is that around eight weeks prior to my next marathon in May that I am going to significantly cut back on the resistance training.

I agree with the thoughts that a over generalized statement that there is only one way to do something is problematic.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby Mark.AU » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:20 pm

6'2" and 210lbs - maybe a bit lighter at race weight.

I've not thought to include weights in my program, and the article doesn't convince me otherwise. I figure if I want to get faster I just better run more and train smarter. Being bigger means more mass, sure; it also means I'm adapted to that mass too. There's plenty more training I can do before I have to resort to lifting weights together faster. I hated that **** when I was football player, I ain't gonna do it now I'm trying to get smaller!
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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby La » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:06 pm

Jwolf wrote:
La wrote:
ian wrote:The article states that his one mile PB is 7:38 (4:45/K). You've practically held that pace for 10K in the past (even setting aside age and gender differences), and I would regard you as a much better example of a big-but-not-slow runner than him.

Surely "you" doesn't mean me, specifically! :lol: It's been several years since I've been able to run even 5:10/km for longer than 5K. ;) That said, I should test myself for a 1-mile repeat and see what I can do.


Not a 1-mile repeat-- a 1-mile time trial as fast as you can go. Your 5:10/km for 5K is roughly equivalent to his 7:38-mile. So Ian's comment is valid. :)

Yeah, I called it a repeat, but what I meant was time trial. It will have to wait, though. I'm not in time trial shape right now.
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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby phorunner » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:43 pm

Mark 2.1 wrote:6'2" and 210lbs - maybe a bit lighter at race weight.

I've not thought to include weights in my program, and the article doesn't convince me otherwise. I figure if I want to get faster I just better run more and train smarter. Being bigger means more mass, sure; it also means I'm adapted to that mass too. There's plenty more training I can do before I have to resort to lifting weights together faster. I hated that **** when I was football player, I ain't gonna do it now I'm trying to get smaller!


I think it all depends on what kind of mass that is, but I'd still guess that there's some level that even with a high percentage of lean muscle, there's still a point where the power gains outweigh the weight you carry, not to mention the extra wear and tear on joints, expended energy and such.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby MichaelMc » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:38 pm

phorunner wrote:
Mark 2.1 wrote:6'2" and 210lbs - maybe a bit lighter at race weight.

I've not thought to include weights in my program, and the article doesn't convince me otherwise. I figure if I want to get faster I just better run more and train smarter. Being bigger means more mass, sure; it also means I'm adapted to that mass too. There's plenty more training I can do before I have to resort to lifting weights together faster. I hated that **** when I was football player, I ain't gonna do it now I'm trying to get smaller!


I think it all depends on what kind of mass that is, but I'd still guess that there's some level that even with a high percentage of lean muscle, there's still a point where the power gains outweigh the weight you carry, not to mention the extra wear and tear on joints, expended energy and such.


Low rep, near max lifting will NOT increase your mass measurably if you're doing a challenging endurance running program simultaneously. In years past I'd have argued if you didn't gain muscle mass (density or size) your strength increase would be pretty limited, but research seems to show you can still make very solid strength gains. Might be all "neuromuscular" (using a higher percentage of your existing muscle), but the source of the strength gain doesn't affect its usefulness.

I'll reiterate, for pure running results the vast majority of runners would be better served by investing time in running training. For people who have excellent running training already, or who'd just like to do some power lifting, there is some scientific support for it.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby Ironboy » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:23 pm

I do suspect however that strength is underestimated as a contributing factor of strong runners.

It is rarely measured, so hard to quantify, but I believe most fast runners are stronger than they think.

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby Dstew » Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:21 am

This is an fascinating topic to me because it starts to raise some interesting questions.

There is not even a shred of a doubt that those with a right running genes that running is good and more running is better.

For a good majority of the people and over several years, very slowly and safely adding more running is also a way to optimize one's running result.

But I have to ask myself, what is the best approach for the middle or back of the pack runner who is doing this for health and fitness and trying to make it fun. They want decent results but not at any cost and with minimal risk of injury. That running may not be their only sport. This group could also include people like myself where the classic approach eventually has a much lower peak than other approaches and inevitably leads to an injury - a small minority but with millions engaged in this activity, not an insignificant number of individuals.

What is the best approach for those not in the top 10, 15 or even 25% and may not have any real desire to get there. Someone who likes to run but does who sees a Kenyan marathon runner and has to check to make sure it it not an ad for famine relief. Is more running and only answer? Especially with several studies that show from a purely health objective, more running is not necessarily a good thing. That the normal mileage suggested for marathon training may have no real health benefit.

I do appreciate such thoughts are not in sync with a running site where people are looking to get faster but something I am putting out there.


One thing that I have to wonder is that as an average weekend warrior, is substituting one or two runs a week for weights or the elliptical really going to have a measurable or meaningful impact? Just how much faster is a 2 hour half marathon going to be if they put in two more slow runs per week then if they instead did intervals on a spinner bike. Which is going to be the fitter and more well rounded athlete? For an elite athlete trying to shave off a minute or two on for a marathon, yes, the extra runs means something but for others whose genetics does not allow them to adapt in the same way, is the bike that much worse as some will argue, the same or maybe even in some cases, better? I wonder if sometimes we do not treat this like a religion and thus there are certain rituals and dogma we must follow to prove we are worthy and true believers? That anyone can run a marathon but only a select and special few can properly train for one?

It reminds me of a debate I read on another forum. Who is the better runner? The one who takes walk breaks and finishes the marathon in 3:30 or the guy who runs the whole thing and finishes in 3:45? Who is the better runner, one who incorporate weights as an equal part of the overall regime or uses weights as a supplement?

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Re: Big, Fast, Strong

Postby MichaelMc » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:23 am

For "well rounded" and "overall health" there is a strong argument for swapping running for weights. Weights is probably every bit as important for health as running, so NOT lifting and exclusively running is a choce made in favor of running over "well rounded". For fitness, frankly, "doing it" is the most important thing, so if you are more likely to consistantly lift than consistantly run (or vice versa) then that'd be the healthy choice.

For distance RUNNING results, getting mileage safely up to a level which inspires distance adaptations is the single most important factor. There probably are individuals who cannot achieve this, but for every one of those there are probably at least a hundred who are convinced they can't because every single time they've tried they have violated a training principle and overdone SOMETHING (too much speed, too quick increase in mileage etc.).

For those who have patiently followed every principle and been unable to get mileage to a level which supports the distance they want to race, it must be doubly frustrating when they hear mantras like mine. For me, who has been able without fail to massively increase people's mileage safely and seen their results improve dramatically as a result even when they are 100% certain they've tried everything, skepticism should be understood.

I'm a big fan of weight lifting. I participated in a lot of sports, and was reasonably successful at a range of sports that my physical size didn't suit me for largely due to being very powerful for my size and quick; I wasn't born with those attributes, I earned them in a weight room. I'm not as strong or well rounded now, but I'm still pretty darn healthy and happy.


Dstew wrote:This is an fascinating topic to me because it starts to raise some interesting questions.

There is not even a shred of a doubt that those with a right running genes that running is good and more running is better.

For a good majority of the people and over several years, very slowly and safely adding more running is also a way to optimize one's running result.

But I have to ask myself, what is the best approach for the middle or back of the pack runner who is doing this for health and fitness and trying to make it fun. They want decent results but not at any cost and with minimal risk of injury. That running may not be their only sport...

I do appreciate such thoughts are not in sync with a running site where people are looking to get faster but something I am putting out there.


One thing that I have to wonder is that as an average weekend warrior, is substituting one or two runs a week for weights or the elliptical really going to have a measurable or meaningful impact? Just how much faster is a 2 hour half marathon going to be if they put in two more slow runs per week then if they instead did intervals on a spinner bike. Which is going to be the fitter and more well rounded athlete?

It reminds me of a debate I read on another forum. Who is the better runner? The one who takes walk breaks and finishes the marathon in 3:30 or the guy who runs the whole thing and finishes in 3:45? Who is the better runner, one who incorporate weights as an equal part of the overall regime or uses weights as a supplement?


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