Couch Potato To Runner–Strength Training For Beginners

Now that I’ve decided to maintain current running schedule of three miles three times a week, instead of increasing my mileage, it’s time to work on strength training. I should have been doing this all along, and I know it will have a big impact on my fitness level. It will also help me to be less injury prone…so far I’ve not been injured in my running, but I know how unstable my knees are and I am very careful when running on the uneven areas of my neighborhood sidewalks.

I got an e-mail from Spark People the other day with the title, The Best Strength Moves For Runners, and I quickly clicked through to the article, The Best Strength Training Exercises for Runners: Build Strength and Power, Decrease Injury Risk”. This was just the thing I needed and I found a very comprehensive plan that I decided to try. They offer a beginner workout, an intermediate workout, and a gym workout; I chose the plan for beginners, but I hope to get comfortable enough to head back to the gym and do the longer gym workout.

I’m going to try the beginner routine on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, with my 3-mile runs on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday. So, today I got out the instructions and my exercise mat thinking it would be a piece of cake. Each exercise is to be done for 15 repetitions for 2 sets. The whole thing is supposed to take 20 minutes. I was thinking that this would be easy. If it were easy, I guess it wouldn’t really be helping me; I’ll have to build up to the beginner plan after all.

I started out doing fine with squats. These were pretty easy, after all, I’ve just spent months building up my quads and glutes with the running. Next up, runners’ lunges…a little more coordination is required, but I soon finished 15 reps on each side only to realize that counted as one set, not two. I finished up with another set and moved on to lateral lunges. Once again, it was 2 sets per side. Time was ticking by and I wondered if I’d really finish the routine in 20 minutes.

Then came the first killer exercise for me, incline pushups. I positioned myself at the bottom step to the attic since heaven knows where my old aerobics step is…attic or basement, take your pick. I knew enough to start with a modified pose, on my knees rather than on my toes. Upper body strength is something I really need to work on, but I did manage to get through two sets of 15 repetitions. Arms shaking, I moved on to the next exercise.

For the modified plank, the instructions say to try to hold the pose for 60 seconds. Well, at this point, arms shaking, I couldn’t even hold it 10 seconds. If you do 2 sets of 15, that would take 30 minutes, making this whole routine far longer than 20 minutes. I had to stop after just a few. Next was Superman and then finally bicycle crunches. Needless to say, I do not have a strong core…so this whole “beginners” routine is something I will have to build up to.

Now it’s time to shower and go to church…time for Finding Joy.

Find the Joy in the Journey…each journey starts with a single step, or a single bicycle crunch in my case!


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