If you are a runner/ triathlete/ cyclist, then there is a good chance that run, bike, swim or a combination of the three is all you do – I know a lot of endurance athletes and it’s quite a common theme, especially amongst the higher age categories, not to implement any other types of training.
Up until recently, I was one of those triathletes that didn’t want to do any other type of training, for fear that it would ‘tire me out’ before a ride, or ‘give me DOMS’ before a run, or increase my chance of injury. I didn’t believe that it went hand in hand to be strong in the gym and go long on the course, or be a flexible endurance athlete – that one just didn’t seem scientifically possible!
In actual fact, strength training creates a stable foundation for us to put the endurance work on to, and exploiting both the anaerobic and aerobic systems is undeniable at making you become a better, fitter and well rounded athlete. By strengthening our bodies through resistance training we allow our bodies to become better able to handle the stress our endurance workouts put on us.
The more strength you have from weight training (in your arms or legs) means you get more bang for your buck. If every pedal stroke has more power behind it – the further you get quicker and more efficiently, same with the swim stroke! It makes sense, right?
As a runner/triathlete or cyclist, it’s also pretty common to neglect any mobility or flexibility work – I put this down to time and also the ‘what’s the point’ attitude, for belief that 10 minutes of stretching will never undo the last 7 hours on the bike!
If you think about it, run, bike, swim mostly take place in the front-to back plane of motion, it means we are sat, or running or swimming in a position with very limited joint range-of-motion, for multiple hours! There is no wonder we feel weak and tight, have muscle imbalances, joint problems and loss of movement! As well as being mobile, it’s important to work to some extent on flexibility (though I would always prioritise mobility), as the stiffer you are, the higher risk of muscle strains, aka…. Injuries!
Basically I’m saying that if you are an endurance athlete, you should also be in the gym a lot, and on your mat too (I would recommend Pilates for mobility and flexibility)! Forget the old fashioned idea that the gym isn’t a place for runners, and if you run further then the 26.2 you won’t be able to touch your toes again – our bodies are AMAZING and are meant to be functionally fit – fast, flexible, strong and able to go long!