Why Marathon Runners Should Strength Train
Fitness • December 15, 2016
Now that the New York City Marathoners have had time to rest and recover, several of our FHIXers who are marathon finishers, as well as a FHIXer who just completed her first Triathlon in Miami, shared how incorporating Fhitting Room into their training helped them prepare for their races.
1. Describe your marathon/triathlon experience in three words.
Alicia Lee: Love-letter from NYC. (If that counts as one word, then also celebratory and grateful!)
Shu Jin Rankin: Inspirational. Love. Journey.
Peter Lee: Really fun day.
Shirel: Challenging, fun and the single most REWARDING thing I’ve ever done
2. How important was cross training in your marathon/Olympic distance triathlon preparation?
Alicia Lee: Cross training at TFR was just as important as long training runs each week. Challenging leg workouts mimicked hill training, which gave me the strength and confidence to tackle all of the bridges that are part of the course. I often took class the day after a long run when my legs were already tired. While that added an extra degree of difficulty to that day’s program, I knew it’s exactly how my legs would feel 20+ miles in and those Sunday classes definitely helped to increase my endurance and stamina. I’m so much stronger and FHIT thanks to taking class a couple times a week, which isn’t just a benefit for marathon training but all aspects of everyday life. Not only did TFR prepare me for the race physically, but each class helped to strengthen the mental toughness needed to complete a marathon. Each week, I pushed myself FHIX after FHIX, and gave it my all until the clock hit zero. Building up that “you got this, you can do anything for 20 more seconds” muscle in my brain paid dividends come race day. I channeled that same grit, determination and confidence from each FHIX, every mile of the race, right down to the finish line. Cross-training at TFR also led me to my running squad! There’s no way I would have made it through marathon training and the race without them. The #FHITfam community is real and I’m so grateful for it.
Shu Jin Rankin: So important! I integrated TFR into my marathon training after getting PR’s in both half marathons I ran earlier this year. TFR has made me a better athlete and improved my overall stamina.
Peter Lee: I’ve used cross training a lot since the middle of 2015 which has really helped me strengthen my legs and core. I think cross training is a large part of what has enabled me to increase my mileage so that I can run a marathon – and actually enjoy it. The workouts at The Fhitting Room challenge my muscles differently than running which allows for areas that may be neglected from running alone to develop.
Shirel: It was incredible just in terms of my body strength and endurance. I utilized so many things I learned at TFR during my race. For example while swimming I started getting a bit tired so every 200 meters I did some Tabata-like drills. 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off for 200 meters then a 200 meter recovery swim. This allowed me to power through while also controlling my heart rate during the swim portion. As a general note, I believe that cross training allows you to really build serious muscles and improve your efficiency as you work certain muscle groups that don’t get as much attention when strictly running or biking.
3. What TFR movement was most helpful to your 26.2/ Olympic distance triathlon?
Alicia Lee: Most helpful physically – jumping lunges. As much as I hate them, it’s one of the best moves to build quad strength, which is so important for runners. And burpees – they really are a total body exercise that just makes you better at everything. Most helpful mentally: a 400m run. Especially when Farouk would sneak an extra run into the program. When I saw the “800m to the finish line” sign during the marathon, all I could think about were those 400m runs. I knew I crushed those runs in class and could do it one more time; that gave me the boost I needed to finish strong.
Shu Jin Rankin: I hate to admit it, but probably my least favorite move, the burpee!
Peter Lee: Toss up between several different leg exercises which require me to keep my core engaged. Goblet squats, kettlebell swings, suitcase lunges. The hundreds of burpees probably help too. 😉
Shirel: THE ROWER. This is by far the best cross training tool anyone could utilize when preparing for a race. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do some serious 60 minute rows with Ben at TFR. When using this machine correctly, you create a tremendous amount of strength and power from your legs and core. You are also able to learn proper breathing techniques and increase both endurance and efficiency. My life motto is “More rower, less everything else!”
4. We sure hope you indulged after crossing the finish line! What did you eat?
Alicia Lee: My dad and sister had a pretzel croissant from City Bakery and hot tea waiting for me after I got my poncho! Almost every one of my long training runs ended with a burger and I wasn’t about to break tradition. We celebrated with my favorite burger in NYC, a cheeseburger with cottage fries at JG Melon, then cupcakes from Two Little Red Hens.
Shu Jin Rankin: A double cheese from Five Guys and too many Cajun flavored fries.
Peter Lee: A large order of Panera mac and cheese.
Shirel: I had a glass of wine, blueberry pancakes and a veggie burger with fries. I literally wanted to eat everything and it was all amazing.
5. What was your marathon mantra or song that kept you going?
Alicia Lee: When it got tough, I just told myself to put one foot in front of the other and that my only goal in that moment was to just keep moving. The cheers from spectators were amazing! Hearing my name made me feel like such a rockstar and that was the best motivation to keep going. Also, part of the Sunday Funday 4pm Penthouse crew came out to cheer me on at the park so I told myself I better hurry up so they could see me and not be late for class!
Shu Jin Rankin: I like to repeat every single exercise and run that has lead me to that moment, so I am often saying, “every burpee, every KB deadlift, every Sunday long run…” to myself, and I match the rhythm of each thought with each foot strike. It helps!
Peter Lee: Since I was running it for fun, I didn’t experience as much discomfort as when racing a marathon, but my friend and I did often repeat “just keep running” since we were dressed as Dory and Nemo.
Shirel: Fun fact about triathlons that I didn’t know going into it was you cannot listen to music on the run. If you do, you get a time penalty. At first I was willing to take the penalty but after the bike ride when I realized I could finish the race sub 4 hours, I decided to forego music and just started running. The one thing I kept repeating to myself (out loud at one point when I hit a wall at mile 5 of the run) was “No one can do this for you, no one can finish this race for you. Do this for yourself.” This is something that had been said to me so many times so I pictured all the people who were rooting for me and I just kept repeating that to myself over and over until I crossed the finish line. It’s incredible how strong your mind needs to be when you hit the wall of exhaustion. And it is even more incredible how the people in your life can be the greatest drivers and motivators for your personal success. This one was definitely as much for all of them as it was for me.
Thanks to Alicia, Shu Jin, Peter and Shirel for sharing your FHITspiration stories with us. Congrats on your FHIT achievement; you have inspired us to HIT it hard in every single FHIX!
Want to share your FHIT story with us? HIT us up at firstname.lastname@example.org!