Strength Training Resources I’ve Found Recently

Strength Training Resources I've Found Recently

I admittedly fell off the strength training wagon this spring. I was deliberate and diligent about it in January and February when I was going to the gym a lot. It’s easy to spend a lot of time there when the weather is sucky and you have to go there to use the treadmill anyway. You say, “While I’m here, I might as well get strong.” But once the weather shifted a bit, I spent less time there and only managed to do core routines when I felt like it. Which, let’s be honest was probably just once a week on a Sunday night before the week ended.

I really like the strength work that I’ve done in the past. If you want a quick summary, here you go.

There are so many strength training routines out there – most of them are 80% identical and you kind of have to wing it, combine them, and hope for the best.This cycle, I’m committing to strength training 2 x a week and a core strength routine 3 x a week. Here are a few strength routines that I’ve come across lately that look promising (I’ve done all of them, but only for a week or two!):

I did this routine for the first time this week and all I can say is I’d like to install some handicap bars in my bathroom. I did many of these in PT a few years ago and have been doing clamshells like it’s my job since. The other exercises activated not only the glutes but also hip flexors and core. I bought the mini bands they recommended in the blog post (1 green, 1 blue). Thanks to Kristy for tweeting this resource!


  • The Dozen – I think I’ve had this saved in Evernote for at least a year and a half.

I just didn’t implement it until now. I’ve used this other core routine for many years, but the dozen challenged me. I think I’ll do a mixture of both routines to keep it interesting. I normally set a timer on my phone and do this while watching TV at night or right after a run.


Hallelujah! I think one of the things that can seem overwhelming about strength training is that it takes up so much time. (It really doesn’t.) If you have already have a hard time squeezing your scheduled runs into your day, it can be daunting to try to do more than that. I’m thinking this 7 minute video done 2-3 x a week would be a good solution.

I keep all of these routines and others that I find tagged as ‘strength training’ in Evernote and pull out my iPad when I get back from a workout. I try to keep hard days hard and easy days easy by only doing strength training that will make me sore on workout days. So, with the above routines, that means doing 1 set of all 10 mini band butt exercises + the Movement 108 video on a workout day and doing core strength  on easy/recovery days.

I thought I’d share! Enjoy!

– J

True Recovery & A Focus on Strength-Training

A few weeks ago, I made a conscious decision to cut back on miles and focus on true recovery + a decent amount of strength training. And guess what? Since then, I’ve felt much, much better.

My legs felt dead, heavy, and sluggish. My form felt ‘wonky’ and it took a lot of self-talk to get through even the easiest of runs. I had little niggles that just didn’t seem to want to give up. I felt a twinge in my left quad (helloooo old injury) and my right calf wasn’t having much fun. (Note: I’ve experienced burnout. This didn’t feel like that. It just felt ‘blah’– and when running feels ‘blah’, you must learn to cool it. It’s possible that I recognized the symptoms of burnout before burnout actually happened. Hey, I’m learning!)

Week of May 19th: 4 runs, 30 miles (Soldier Field 10) including: 1 spin class + 1 ART session

Week of May 26: 4 runs, 15 miles including: 2 hours spin, core + leg + hip strength routines x 2, 1 Bodypump class

Week of June 2: 4 runs, 21 miles including: 2 hours spin, 1 hour vinyasa yoga, core + leg + hip strength routines x 1

I keep a paper training log (I know. Weird, right?). Four short weeks ago, I wrote this at the bottom of my weekly log: “I just want to enjoy running right now. Cutting back!”. It took me a few weeks to let go of a redemption dream after Boston. After busting my a** all winter and enduring some seriously horrible training conditions, I was more than eager to get to a 26.2 finish line in my goal time. But my body (and likely, my mind) was not ready for another 26.2 mile beating and it finally dawned on me that the rest of this year will be a success if I take it easy now. I am setting my sights on a fall marathon – and recovery and having fun right now is all part of that plan.

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My favorite place lately.

So, the week of May 26th, I got seriously about doing some strength training. And lemme tell ya, when you haven’t used your upper body in any other way than to pump during speed intervals, said upper body can go into complete shock after a single Bodypump class. I’m not kidding. I was pretty much sore from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday morning and I only loosened up after a Vinayasa class. Clearly, focusing on strength is a good idea before I really begin to commit to a training cycle again. I did two full strength workouts and 1 Bodypump class that week, which is approximately 2 more strength workouts than I do during a good (i.e. normal) week. Each run was 3-4 miles and I felt like I finished each one feeling like it was just right. I didn’t feel like running any longer. Motivation to run was lowwwww. (I can only imagine what this week had been like if I decided to get back to some serious mileage. Crash and burn comes to mind.)

2014-06-05 19.13.23No workouts = more exploring.

The next week was full of some more cross-training – 2 hours spin, 1 hour yoga, + another strength routine. Note: upper body fully recovered from Bodypump. I am LOVING spin class lately. I’ve officially found my favorite instructor yet. She’s “no nonsense”, tough, and plays great music. Another bonus is that she teaches a noon class on Friday which is relatively easy for me to get to. It’s my Friday treat. Plus, it’s the closest I’ve been able to come to a runner’s high – sunshine and rainbows after 1 hour on the bike lately! All of the running miles this week felt easier than the previous week (i.e. I didn’t feel like I was running through sand) and I was even able to “run long” on Sunday. I went for a 8.75 mile trot on Sunday. It felt so good to feel good again. And I couldn’t pass up a recovery run with Kristy who was in town for Marron’s wedding. I’m not sure if it was just the distraction of chatting with her, but I felt better than I have in weeks on that run. Plus, no run can go poorly when it’s followed by brunch with the gals.

2014-06-08 12.52.02-2CT, Liz, Leticia, me, Kristy, and Corey (they waited many cold months to wear those white pants!)

So, two weeks after making a conscious decision to cut the miles and add in some fun strength & cross-training, I’m feeling MUCH better. I haven’t taken note of a single mile split in the past two weeks – it’s refreshing to just run. I haven’t felt any painful twinges and my form feels stronger than it’s felt since before Boston. I doubt I’ll ever be the type of runner than can jump into one training cycle immediately after another. Taking the time to rest and recharge between cycles works for me. Besides, I’m beginning to become aware of my biceps and triceps! Who knew those muscles existed?!

Fall marathon plans to come!

– J



Boston 2014 Training: Week 8 of 16

Week 8

This week, I ran 45 miles: 5 runs, Core x 3, Hip Strength x 3, ART x 1, and Massage x 1. 

Week 8?! Like, when did that happen? Also, 18 miles? How the heck did that happen?

This week didn’t really go as I had planned. It was a big of a “blergh” week. I was fighting off some sore of cough/cold/virus, which made sleep more restless. I returned to a regular strength workout routine this week (which has been lacking the past few weeks—I learned that lesson last fall, thankyaverymuch!). And in general, the legs just didn’t want to GO this week.

Overall, this cycle has been unlike any other but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing…yet. Just trying to take it day-by-day, week-by-week and see how things progress.

Monday: 6 miles, 8:10 pace + Hip Strength Routine

I watched the Olympics and listened to This American Life on the run. Made the miles go by pretty quickly. And then I did the entire Hip Strength routine that my PT and I made last fall. I’ve been neglecting that part of my training (in favor of things like spin or Bodypump) in the past few weeks and knew I should get back to it. I was a sweaty mess by the time I was done with it.

Tuesday: 7.5 miles, 7:46 pace + Core Routine

….which leads me tooooooooooo…..the fact that my quads/hips/glutes were SUPER sore on Tuesday. (Shoulda known.) I had 12 x 400 on the calendar for today, but I just knew that wasn’t going to happen—or it would be incredibly ugly if I attempted it. Resigned to 6 x 2 minute cruise intervals at 6:40 pace to replace the speed intervals. Felt like I slogged through this one a bit.

Wednesday: 1 hour easy easy spin + Hip Strength Routine

Corey and I both wanted to spin easy so we met up early — it felt good to get this done first thing in the morning so I didn’t have to think about it the rest of the day. It felt good just to spin the legs, light resistance and high cadence. The legs were definitely still feeling the burn after Monday’s hip strength routine so I figured I should hit those muscles again. Corey and I did a shortened version of the routine together.

Thursday: 8 miles, 7:48 pace + Core Routine

Another day that really didn’t go as planned. (But again, I’m not terribly worried about it.) I had originally planned to run a 5-mile tempo on the lakefront with a group of speedy people (Annabelle, Tim, and Lynton) but the weather got the best of us (hello torrential rain!!!) and it seemed the majority of us were dealing with little niggles. I had to shuffle my day a bit and went to the treadmill to attempt the tempo. I extended the warm-up to 3.5 miles (mostly because I was just delaying the pain of a workout–normally do 2 mi warm-up) before starting. I ended up running 2 miles of the tempo at 6:58/mile before calling it an easy day with a lonnngggg cooldown. The legs just wouldn’t get with the program — breathing was totally even. There will be a serious redemption tempo in the near future.

Friday: ART + Complete REST

I was so tired today. I finally realized that I should be taking meds for whatever cough/cold/virus I was fighting. I even napped for two hours after work, which never happens. So yeah, maybe this little virus thing just bombed my workouts this week and my legs aren’t to blame.

Saturday: 18 miles, 7:37/mile pace + 60 min Sports Massage

Today was just a day to get it done. Legs felt heavy from the get-go but didn’t really become heavier as the run went on (not even sure how that’s possible). I ran south for the first time in months (maybe since October?!). It was nice to have a different view–the north section of path can be so boring after awhile. Around mile 3, Ken W. and I had an epic side-5. I knew it was him because of the shades. I ran 7 miles south until the path was pretty much impassable with a huge puddle. See?!

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Felt like Forrest Gump when he just feels like going home. Wind wasn’t too bad but annoying at times. I was so happy to see Charlyn C. out there with CB! (You both looked so happy!) The sun peaked out a few times and it was 100% sunny the last few miles. This didn’t feel amazing but I’m happy I got it done.

Really missed these views!

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2014-02-22 12.05.17Garmin shot! You’re welcome!

I had a 60 minute sports massage in the afternoon that made me so relaxed, I was practically delirious afterward. Last year, I was pretty diligent about getting a very simple, relaxing massage every 4 weeks. I definitely needed to ‘reset’ after this week. I woke up on Sunday feeling really good–think it was just what I needed.

Also, I cuddled with Corey’s monsters, Walter and Ernie that evening while we watched House of Cards. Walter, you’re so inappropriate.

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Lady killer!

Sunday: 5 recovery miles, 8:18 pace + Core Routine

Nice and easy on the treadmill. I watched the Olympics closing ceremony and listened to the Slate Culture Gabfest. I’ve been listening to podcasts lately on my recovery runs. (Throw out some suggestions if you have any that you’re obsessed with!)


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I finally took the time to catch up on last month’s Running Times magazine. The entire issue was about recovery (which seemed super appropriate this week). The quote about spoke to me because I didn’t really feel that great this week. I might be toeing the line between feeling good and feeling good enough lately. I know what it’s like to feel bad and that’s not how I’m feeling right now. Hopefully all I needed this week was to reset, get some sleep, get some good bodywork and prepare for another week ahead.

20 Days to NYC Half and 56 days to Boston! 

Lately: COLD, Base-Building, & Strength-Training

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The temp at 10:31 AM today. That’s just…..cold.

First, can we talk about how Chicago is currently enduring January-like weather?! We’ve officially entered the season when I constantly check the weather to decide what time of day to run. And unfortunately, I’ve had to do the majority of my running inside lately. I have a hard time getting outside to run in anything colder than “feels like 10 degrees”. And while we haven’t had to deal with that much snowfall yet, footing is still tricky. Until my quad is back to 100% I’m being super cautious and sticking to the treadmill. And I’m going to have to come to grips with the fact that I’ll need to embrace the treadmill this winter in order to get some strong Boston training in.

Second, running is becoming fun again! (Wahoooooo!) I ran 35 miles last week, which means I’ve been able to increase my mileage every week for the past month (20-35 miles per week, along with cross-training). I’m going to level it off this week at 35 miles and include some fartlek action just to keep things interesting and to see how the leg reacts. I have been playing with the pace a bit this week, but haven’t dipped below 7:40 pace in two weeks. I’m working a lot on my form and focusing on smoothing my stride. I’ve always felt like I have a pretty solid stride but the slight difference between the left and the right certainly caught up with me over 100s of miles this year. It’s been nice to regroup. And it’s a huge relief that 35 miles doesn’t feel like a big ol’ sufferfest right now. I think ART sessions each week have made a big difference–I’m not sure I’d be running comfortably without it to be honest. Woop woop for finding a solution!

Third, I’m working on building strength in weak areas. I lost sight of my strength training in late September and I think it played a huge part in the breakdown. (How I could forget about doing that Jillian Michaels’ 6 Week 6 Pack DVD each Wednesday is beyond me!) I’ve always tried to be consistent in my strength and cross-training but sometimes it’s easier than others. (A peak at some of the strength routines I’ve done in the past.)

My PT and I discussed my weaknesses in November and came up with a few routines that should prevent future injury. A sampling for ya!:

Dynamic Warm-up: before every run

Dynamic Warm-Up

Walking Deadlift / Knee Hugs / Quad Walk / Cradle Walk / Groiners / Donkey Kicks / Iron Cross / Scorpion / Lunge Matrix / Leg Swings / Lateral Leg Swings

Most of these are pretty self explanatory. I notice a big difference when I commit to doing a full warm-up (takes less than 8 minutes) than when I decide to skip it.

Hip Strength Routine: 3 x weekly

Hip Strength Routine for Runners

 I use a TheraBand for #s, 1, 4, & 11. If it feels too easy, I swap out that band for one with greater resistance.

Again, some of these seem so simple and easy but when you do it as a whole routine, you walk out of the gym feeling like you have old lady hips (in a good way?). Doing all of this with your own body weight + a medicine ball/kettlebell is a serious workout for muscles that are typically neglected while training.

If you do one set of 15 reps for each exercise, this should take you at least 25-30 minutes.

Core Routine: 3x weekly

Core Strength Routine for Runners

This is Predawn Runner’s Promethius Core Routine for runners. I’ve been using this routine for almost 2 years now. It’s quick, challenging (more so than it seems), and I feel like it gets the job done. Once I feel like I’m easily doing 2-3 sets with each exercise at 1 min, I do 2 sets with each exercise at 1:30 (using the timer on my phone).

Do you strength train? What’s your favorite exercise? 

Is there a difference between the strength training you do during the on/off seasons?


Update on the GM (Gluteus Medius)

Good ol’ gluteus medius. After putzing around last week and feeling sorry for myself, I’m feeling much more productive and “myself” this week. This can only be due to the fact that I’m actually sticking to some sort of cross-training routine and have seen the PT twice in 3 days.

Having never been to a physical therapist previously, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So far, it’s been a lot of heating pads, deep tissue massage of my left hip, and fun exercises on the pilates reformer machine. Not too shabby! Mike (Mr. PT) thinks that it’s just a matter of time before my hip lets go, the tenderness goes away, and I can begin to run strong again. I’m doing all that I can to stay active because, let’s be honest, if I’m not active I don’t know who the hell I am—not to mention the crazy pent up energy that has to be channeled in other ways.

I’m sticking to easy spinning in the dark spin room by myself (which is oddly therapeutic) and some vinyasa yoga. Today, though, Mr. PT said that he thinks that yoga is too challenging on my hips and actually has “compressed” them. I’m not shocked by this especially because of all of the deep lunge work you can do especially in the Warrior poses. On Monday, he encouraged me to continue going to yoga as an “experiment” to see how my hips would feel afterward and we decided that experiment failed. So, I’ll switch to spinning and elliptical more than anything else for the next few weeks.

On Friday or Saturday, I’m going to go for my first short “test run”. A tender gluteus medius apparently isn’t going to show itself during a run because of the range of motion used. When I first started to realize it was sore, the ache always showed up after a run. Here’s to hoping that weird ache stays away post-run on Friday!

I’ve scheduled a one-hour PT session every week for the next 3 weeks to work through the small amount of discomfort I’m dealing with. I’m on the up and up. All in all, I’m feeling confident about getting back to it soon. Until THEN, I’ll continue to wallow in retail therapy and large purchases of running gear online. What else is a girl to do?!


Strength Training for Long-Distance Runners

I have never been one to hang out on a certain side of the gym. Ya know, the side with all the free weights and machines where the juice heads congregate? This puny little runner always feels inadequate next to someone about 3 x my own weight. But “strength training” has recently become a priority in terms of my running life. I am certainly not becoming buddies and forging gym relationships with the juice heads, but I think it is really important to strengthen certain muscles that are easily fatigued or weakened by running 30+ miles a week.

So, I’m focusing on a lot of calisthenic routines that are meant specifically for runners and anyone that wants to prevent common running injuries.

First, I do the lunge matrix as a warm-up.

Coach Jay Johnson has some awesome videos of the routine. The first time I did this simple routine I did 10 repetitions of each lunge and I was walking funny for the next 4 days–no kidding! It seems so simple and easy while you are doing it but you don’t really realize the amount of power you can lose from repetitively running the same kinds of workouts without using even your quadriceps. I try to do this routine a few times a week, but average twice a week and can now comfortably perform 10 reps of all 4 lunges: forward, side, diagonal (this one’s important!), and backward.

Second, I do the Myrtl routine as a cool-down.

Again, Coach Jay Johnson has a great video of this routine. And just as with the lunge matrix, this looks easier than it actually is. One focus area for me since I had a minor achilles issue last year has been hip strength. Lots of research in the past few years has demonstrated that hip strength is the cause of the majority of lower leg injuries in runners. So while this routine has a strength element, it’s mainly meant to be preventative. If you’re like me, my hips are always tight after a hard race but I feel like my stride is more powerful since adding this to my routine.

Myrtl Routine <—You can also print this PDF and stuff it in your gym bag if you need a reminder!

Third, a core routine! Gotta get that 12-pack, ya know?

I always knew that core strength is really important for runners because of the stability and form factors, but I never consciously added them to my weekly routine until about a month ago. Before, I would do my own random mixture of ab exercises that I grew up doing as part of a sports team. Last month I asked around and decided to commit to Predawn Runner’s 30-Minute Core Routine for Runners. It’s made up of 8 different exercises that you perform for at least one minute. Ideally, a long distance runner should do 3 cycles of the routine at 1 min (or more) per exercise about 3-4 times a week for 6-8 weeks to see results. I haven’t been quite that fastidious–I’ve only completed the routine 1 time per week for the last 4 weeks but I’ve already seen a difference in the strength of my core. Now that I have a ‘base’ of sorts, I plan on increasing the frequency and the duration of each exercise. I really recommend trying it out!

This PDF is also a good resource if you want some more ideas (it’s a combination of the lunge matrix ancillary work + Myrtl routine): CoachJay’s_AncillaryWork_15min

What kind of ‘strength training’ do you do? Which routines do you find the most helpful specifically for runners?