Monday, March 17, 2003

Weights complement marathon training

Personal trainer

By Dave Patania
Enquirer contributor

Question: I am training hard for the Flying Pig Marathon in May. I was using weights, but quit because people said it would interfere with my training.

Answer: Strength training can be a great addition to marathon training, if you do it the right way. Most people run into problems because they don't adjust their lifting to their marathon training.

When you lift weights, you are performing "anaerobic" work, which means without the presence of oxygen. Your muscles are being fueled by blood sugar and phosphates stored in your muscles rather than oxygen.

When doing endurance-type exercises, such as distance running or cycling, you are relying less on the immediate use of blood sugar stored in the muscles and more on your body's ability to transport oxygen-rich blood to working muscles for sustained periods. This is "aerobic" training.

If you know that anaerobic work is for short bursts of movement or energy and that aerobic work is for longer bouts of energy production, you take that into account with your training. Though strength training is anaerobic in nature, you can use it to enhance your running by adjusting the amount of weight and number of repetitions specific to your runs.

I have a client training for the same marathon, and she is putting in many miles each week, but we lift weights twice a week. During lifting, we re-create situations that occur when she runs - tough hills, long straightaways and tough descents.

For example, I have her do exercises such as squats with light weight, but have her do 20-50 reps. While she is performing the exercise, I have her visualize running up a steep hill or long straightaway and focusing on keeping a smooth pace and proper breathing pattern despite the burn in her muscles.

This prepares her body to effectively perform under conditions that aren't ideal. This type of training helps improve pace, focus and muscle-burn threshold. We use all kinds of scenarios and exercises to work all her body parts. Her times keep dropping and she recovers quickly from her runs and workouts.

Try incorporating weight training into your program but be sure to lift light weights, do many repetitions and visualize different scenarios as you lift.

Don't forget to stretch, drink water and eat high-quality foods to support all of your activity.

Contact certified personal trainer Dave Patania by e-mail:

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