A week or so ago I asked my friend Chase to write up a post about strength training & endurance athletes. On June 5th I set out to to get healthier; I had a weight in mind that I would be “happy” at. Well, I’m happy to report that I’m 2lbs away from the weight; however, I’m still not “happy.” I’ve come to realize that just losing a few pounds is not going to get my body the way I want it. Cardio is fantastic, but I need to add in some strength training to reach the goals I really want. In addition to buff arms, strength training has some other advantages, and since I know very little about that, I’ll let Chase take over from here-
Chase is a former US Marine, Ironman Triathlete, Marathoner, and CrossFit Competitor. He is a Certified Level 1 CrossFit Trainer, who recently opened up his own Virtual Personal Training Company Chase Ford Endurance, LLC. He is based in Kailua, Hawaii, but offers services to anyone, anywhere via email, phone or Skype.
He started Chase Ford Endurance after he had competed in numerous endurance events and felt the need to motivate athletes. This was further confirmed after seeing some response on facebook and other social media sites. The need was to provide virtual personal training and motivation to athletes all over the globe. He currently trains about 10 local athletes in Hawaii and 30 via the internet through his workouts posted on his site daily.
So, Why is strength training so important to endurance athletes?
The question comes up a lot among my athletes: not wanting to get bulky and just wanting to work on endurance. Coming into CrossFit (strength training) as an endurance athlete these were my exact concerns too. I had the mentality to just log miles and maybe do a 30 minute gym session here and there. So what is the real benefit from strength training for Endurance athletes?
The first major benefit in strength training is it will improve your form. While working on strength movements like the dead lift, push press, or back squat you must have a tight core. If you collapse your core, you will not be able to make the lift. This will translate over into your runs, when you need your core the most.
Secondly, it will increase your endurance and stamina during your runs. Take the staple CrossFit Workout “Linda” for example, 10-9-8…2-1 for time of 1.5 x your body weight Dead lift, bodyweight bench press, and 3/4 x your bodyweight Cleans. The workout takes on average between 12:00 minutes to 32:00 minutes depending on the athlete. Since the workout is done for time, you must move efficiently through the entire workout. Without specifically working on endurance, throughout the whole workout you’re training your muscles and mind to be able to work when you’re fatigued. We all know this teaching is invaluable during a long endurance race.
Both of these combined will increase your speed. With stronger muscles your form will be more efficient. Then you add the endurance benefit from the strength training and you have now trained your body to perform when you thought you couldn’t. Who doesn’t want a faster 5k or even break into the Sub 4:00 hours for Marathon? So the benefit of strength training for Endurance Athletes are up to the individual who puts in the time.
Train Smart and Never Quit!
My personal story: The addition of strength training to my endurance training has been the best thing I have ever done. I found myself 13 miles deep into the run portion of an Ironman triathlon with nothing left to give. I had no energy left; I could not take in any nutrition, and seriously was in the fight of my life, mentally, to finish the race. I made it though my first Ironman finishing two hours after my projected time at 14 hours. The minute I left the course I knew I needed to change something. I went back to San Diego in search for a new training program. I started doing more strength training than running and improved my times for an Olympic distance triathlon and for a half ironman. My greatest achievement was coming across the finish line of Miami 70.3 triathlon at 5 hours and 28 minutes. I broke down in tears knowing that I just shaved of 45 minutes from my previous half-ironman distance race. The picture above is from my Ironman in Cozumel to my 70.3 in Miami. The picture speaks for itself.
If you have any questions for Chase you can find him on facebook @ ChaseFordEndurance, or you can leave your questions in the comments, and he may answer them there, or I can relay the information to him. You can also e-mail me any questions, and I’ll forward them on to him.