Trail Running Challenge Blog (Ethan Banks)

More Strength Work Now, More Running Later

I contracted a nasty cold a couple of weeks ago that knocked me down hard. I didn't run for the first week, and only intermittently the second. I slept a lot.

The time off from training gave me a lot of space to think. I thought about the number of minor, niggling injuries I've been fighting. I thought about my right IT band that gets agitated on higher mileage weeks especially.

I also thought about the strength work I've been doing, some weeks half-heartedly. I like strength work, but fitting it in is hard some days, so if I had to pick a run or strength, I'd go for a run.

But while sitting on the couch being sick and miserable, I realized that I'm always going to have niggling issues and IT band problems and crossover gait and whatever else because I'm not strong enough. I've read this reality in books about running. I've heard it on multiple trail running podcasts. I know a lack of strength is a big problem for an endurance athlete.

I pitched all of this to Coach K, and she agreed with my thinking, and came up with an alternate training program. Less running and more strength work.

I know this is might seem counterintuitive. If you want to run further, shouldn't you do more running? Yes, I believe that's partially true, but leaves out an important aspect about the body I didn't quite get until now. I want my body to run a 100 mile mountain endurance event eventually. If I keep running and running with a weak body, I'm going to keep breaking and breaking, and every injury is a training setback.

My body will never be strong enough to sustain high mileage efforts unless I take a step back from mileage and focus on getting stronger.

The new training program my coach has come up with cuts back the running to 4-5 times a week instead of 5-6. It adds a second leg day. There's more auxiliary strength work as well.

Will this new approach make me injury-proof? I don't think any runner is injury-proof. Running is an injury-prone sport. That said, I'm hoping to at least make my body so that when I do get hurt, it's a minor injury. Not something huge like an IT band problem that knocks me out for 3 months like happened last summer.