Thursday, May 21, 2009

Strength Training

Erica Napuli is a personal trainer in Portland, Maine. Her business is called Evolution Fitness and she works out of the Health Coaches studio on Free Street. Last night, Erica spoke to a group of runners at Peak Performance Multisport about the benefit of strength training and stretching for endurance athletes.

I think we all know by now about the value of core strength to any kind of physical activity. It's been published and promoted everywhere and exercise physiologists continue to study the various approaches to optimal training: dynamic stretching versus static stretching before workouts; proper uses of the foam roller, fit ball, rubber bands, medicine ball, balance board, etc. But Erica made a point last evening that I thought was unique: If you are currently training for an event like an upcoming 5K or sprint triathlon, and you've been following a specific training program, this might not be the ideal time to begin a strengthening program.

In spite of what we might say, or what we might know to be true, runners often think more is better. So I found it refreshing to hear that strength training is not only complementary to running, it is its own complete workout. If not taken on or applied carefully, a new regime could compromise an immediate speed goal, for example. She also noted that if you already do strength workouts, you'd be wise to do them on your "off" day from your specific sport.

The good news is that when the time is right to adopt a strength program, you can gain benefits with a half hour workout twice a week. Having trained with Erica, I know that a half hour with her is no easy walk in the park. She has a really calm, deliberate, and effective approach to her work, and you don't get that overworked, out of breath feeling. It's sneaky that way. Erica is very experienced in assessment, and will tailor a program for an athlete's specific activities and goals.

Keep your eye on the prize and consider those cross-training activities that will complement your sport. Good luck!

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or need more information.

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