Wow, did this morning open my eyes. I don’t know how to sugar coat this, so I’m just gonna say it — I am a 60 lb weakling!
I have just spent the better part of the year swimming, biking, and running (often twice a day) –and after a morning of lunges, squats, and leg machines, I feel like I trained for Ironman on the couch. I mean, I’m shuffling around like I’ve been in casts and am learning how to walk again.
It’s a tad deflating, but also encouraging considering my “no run December” decision.
I feel like my theory is right. It’s time for a deeper dive into cross training, which is exactly why I like triathlon so much in the first place. Now I cross train the cross training.
Swimming laps till you’re wrinkled, biking till you’re raw, or running till you drop is fine, but truly substantial gains come from well-rounded strength.
Think about pitchers in baseball. Most people believe it’s all about the arm, but the best pitchers get extra velocity from their legs and core. The arm needs to be strong, but also flexible and loose. It’s the vehicle.
The same goes for running.
Everyone talks about strong legs, but I the best way to speed is through the core. The core is what propels you, the legs are the vehicle. And, while you need a strong core to run, running doesn’t do much to build that core.
So, what does being fit or strong really mean? It means limber, explosive, and resilient muscles.
Triathlon is built on a straight line. Go from “here” to “there” as fast as you can. And I realize that’s the point. Go straight. Go fast. But if we use the same exact muscle groups for the entire year of training, our swims, bikes, and runs break down faster. You have to mix it up . . . you need muscle variance because they support each other.
It’s all about creating balanced strength. Balance on each side of your body, but also balance within the muscle groups of the core, along with each leg and arm. That’s building the base.
That’s why, aside from weight training, I’ve been adding more breast and back stroke in my swims. Challenging myself on the bike by moving focus to my glutes, quads, hamstrings, etc. And on the run, I go out of my way to get off the flats, including more trails.
Muscle structure is incredibly complicated and all interdependent. One weak link can cause a ton of problems. Simply plowing after mileage isn’t gonna cut it, and my weight training session this morning was a huge reminder of just how weak you can get by training for an Ironman.