In a previous blog, I had written about throwing in the towel or trying to overcome obstacles and challenges after a series of events (in my case repeated illnesses this year) throw you a curve ball. I am happy to report that I overcame my first challenge of competing in the Spartan Beast in Breckenridge. My goal was to race to the highest of my abilities, have fun, and do my best. Check, check, and check. However, there are a few things worth mentioning.
First off, let's talk strength. As you may know, I have been an endurance athlete for over 20 years, having done my first triathlon in college. However, I came from a competitive soccer background and thus, adore sprinting. Early in college, I had a group of friends that lifted weights (one was a body builder). While I didn't look the part, I absolutely loved lifting and getting strong. Combine that with my affection to sprinting and higher power/intensity exercises, and you can see that Spartan racing is a great fit for me.
Back to strength...I was having a conversation with a few eNRG Performance members this past week about strength training and the importance of it, especially as we age. As an endurance athlete and coach, it puzzles me that more endurance athletes do not hold strength training in the same acclaim as their endurance training. I have argued for years that strength training is the glue that holds the body together so endurance activities can be done successfully. But I am not here to get on my high horse. Rather, consider this a challenge to you to incorporate more strength into your routine. And while I recognize the benefits of body weight and functional training along with yoga and pilates, that is not enough. The strength I am taking about is lifting and moving heavy objects. You don't have to be a body builder or power lifter but you do need to move things that are heavier than you normally move. Why? Because your skeletal system needs this overload to strength bones, ligaments, tendons, and prevent the age related loss of muscle mass (called sarcopenia), which researchers agree begins in the mid to late 30s. The faster you lose muscle mass, the less function you will have and if you are an athlete, this is bad news.
I could go on and on about how strength training improves endurance performance and how many endurance athletes have benefited from it. But I will save that for a later post. Suffice to say, the blend of having endurance and strength should be everyone's goal. It doesn't matter if you enter a Spartan race or not. It doesn't matter if you are an endurance athlete or fitness enthusiast. What matters is that you make strength a priority and fit it into your daily life and training program. And remember, you don't need to do this in a gym. Go outside, grab some rocks, trees, tires, etc. Just have fun moving, throwing, flipping, and lifting!
Until next week...