Monday, February 12, 2007

Strength Training Isn't Just for Lazy Days

Today was a planned day off running, but unfortunately so — I think it finally broke 30 degress outside!

No joke: I walked outside this morning, when it was about 31 degrees, and it felt like that first whiff of spring. Sure it was snowy and wet, but I had gotten so used to the 15-below weather that it was comfortable. Ah, relativity. Albert was onto something there.

I'm about to do some core/weight exercises (not that right before bed is the best time to do that) for my Monday training. While I used to think of these "core" days as my "slacking" days, I've recently noticed the benefits of strengthening my various muscles groups.

Yesterday, for instance, I was finishing up my fourth mile when I noticed my stengthened hamstring muscles helped me kick it through the latter half of my run.

It's typically around this distance that my form starts slumping. My feet drag a little, my arms are going all the wrong ways. But the expert running form advice I've received from people like Daniella and Melissa have helped me shape up my arm and leg movements for greater efficiency and productivity in my stride. For a while.

A month or two ago, I would have kept up the good stride for about 300 meters, but I could feel a distinct difference in my hamstrings yesterday. My stride was fuller and better extended than usual, and I was able to maintain it for the last 1.5 miles. I have also found that the abdominal and back strengthening I have done improves my running posture as well. Oh, how the benefits are endless.

And to think that I thought tri-training was all swimming, running and biking! Pfft.

My next focus will be on heart rate. I've found a number of resources (including some uber-knowledgeable people) to help me understand my HR and why I should care about it when I'm running and biking.