Real Life Runners with Angie and Kevin Brown

331: Transform Your Run through Heavy Lifting and Plyometrics

November 02, 2023 Angie and Kevin Brown
331: Transform Your Run through Heavy Lifting and Plyometrics
Real Life Runners with Angie and Kevin Brown
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Real Life Runners with Angie and Kevin Brown
331: Transform Your Run through Heavy Lifting and Plyometrics
Nov 02, 2023
Angie and Kevin Brown

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What if strength training was the secret weapon to supercharge your running performance and shield you from injuries? You've laced up your trainers with us, your hosts Kevin and Angie Brown, and now we invite you to journey with us into the world of strength training, specifically heavy lifting and plyometrics. We're here to debunk the complexities of these two training methods and offer practical advice on how to safely incorporate them into your running routine.

First on the list is heavy lifting, a training method that has shown to be a runner's best friend. We delve into how heavy lifting not only strengthens and develops your muscles, but also enhances your running economy. We also shed light on how weightlifting can correct muscle imbalances that lead to inefficient running styles and injuries. But, we don't stop there. We also venture into plyometrics, a workout style that can add some serious power to your runs, and discuss how it beautifully complements heavy lifting. 

This episode is crammed with insights on plyometric benefits like heightened proprioception, which can help you seamlessly traverse the toughest terrains. Plus, we touch on the advantages of cross training, and how it can provide a much-needed break from the repetitive nature of running. If you're keen on powering through your runs, reducing fatigue during long distances, and refining your running technique, we promise this episode will be a game-changer. And remember, if you ever need help with your training plan, we're just a message away!

Sign up for the workshop at www.realliferunners.com/workshop

To join the Academy waitlist, click here.


Thanks for Listening!!

Be sure to hit FOLLOW on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player

Leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Your ratings and reviews really help and we read each one!



Grab your free Strength Guide for Runners here.

Interested in our coaching program? Check out our coaching options here.

Grab your free copy of the Running Snapshot by clicking here.

Come find us on Instagram and say hi!





Don't forget: The information on this website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition or to provide medical advice. It is intended for general education in the areas of health and wellness. All information contained in this site is intended to be educational in nature. Nothing should be considered medical advice for your specific situation.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

What if strength training was the secret weapon to supercharge your running performance and shield you from injuries? You've laced up your trainers with us, your hosts Kevin and Angie Brown, and now we invite you to journey with us into the world of strength training, specifically heavy lifting and plyometrics. We're here to debunk the complexities of these two training methods and offer practical advice on how to safely incorporate them into your running routine.

First on the list is heavy lifting, a training method that has shown to be a runner's best friend. We delve into how heavy lifting not only strengthens and develops your muscles, but also enhances your running economy. We also shed light on how weightlifting can correct muscle imbalances that lead to inefficient running styles and injuries. But, we don't stop there. We also venture into plyometrics, a workout style that can add some serious power to your runs, and discuss how it beautifully complements heavy lifting. 

This episode is crammed with insights on plyometric benefits like heightened proprioception, which can help you seamlessly traverse the toughest terrains. Plus, we touch on the advantages of cross training, and how it can provide a much-needed break from the repetitive nature of running. If you're keen on powering through your runs, reducing fatigue during long distances, and refining your running technique, we promise this episode will be a game-changer. And remember, if you ever need help with your training plan, we're just a message away!

Sign up for the workshop at www.realliferunners.com/workshop

To join the Academy waitlist, click here.


Thanks for Listening!!

Be sure to hit FOLLOW on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player

Leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Your ratings and reviews really help and we read each one!



Grab your free Strength Guide for Runners here.

Interested in our coaching program? Check out our coaching options here.

Grab your free copy of the Running Snapshot by clicking here.

Come find us on Instagram and say hi!





Don't forget: The information on this website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition or to provide medical advice. It is intended for general education in the areas of health and wellness. All information contained in this site is intended to be educational in nature. Nothing should be considered medical advice for your specific situation.

Speaker 1:

This is the Real Life Runners podcast, episode number 331. Heavy lifting and plyometrics for runners. If you're looking for ways to bring more joy into your running and you want to be a physically and mentally stronger runner, you're in the right place.

Speaker 2:

This is the Real Life Runners podcast, and we're your hosts, kevin and Angie Brown. Thanks for spending some time with us today. Now let's get running.

Speaker 1:

What's up, runners, welcome to the podcast today. Today we are going to be talking all about strength training, and you know what proponents of strength training we are. Here on the podcast, specifically, we're going to be getting into the difference between heavy lifting and plyometrics, and which one are better for us as runners Kind of looking at both sides of this strength training coin.

Speaker 2:

We kind of skip past one of the other sides. If you will, I'm going to refer to it as, like, the 90s side.

Speaker 1:

Do we have a three-sided coin?

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, it could land on an edge if it was like 1996 and that's like light weights just 7000 times.

Speaker 1:

There's still actually room for that in the discussion and I've been reading some interesting things and I actually just took a continuing education course in physical therapy the other day.

Speaker 1:

Oh, there's new stuff I'm excited for this, so that's going to be something up and coming, but that is not the topic of today's conversation. Today, we really wanted to look at heavy lifting and plyometrics and when we need to think about using these things as runners. That's really what we want to get into. What are these things? What is heavy lifting? What is plyometrics? Should we be using these? How should we be incorporating these as endurance runners? And some of the details that you need to know so that you are a well-educated runner. We want you to be successful and to us, part of being a successful runner is understanding running, understanding the science of running. So today I want to really break these two things down for you, to help you understand the science behind it and some of the major benefits of both heavy lifting and plyometrics, so you can kind of figure out which one you should be utilizing in your training.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, that's really one of the benefits of this podcast is trying to take runners from the place of. I know that I should be doing strength training, but what and which exercises and how do I lift heavy? I see other people doing plyo. I saw this thing on social media. What works best for you? So we're going to try and break this down so there's some understanding by the end of it.

Speaker 1:

Right. And if you are new to strength training, if you're a runner and you're like, okay, I really need to start strength training. I know this, but I don't know where to start. Go grab our strength guide over on the website realliferunnerscom forward slash strength. It's a free download. It goes through some of the basics of strength training and also gives you some exercises to start with so that you can start yourself out on your strength training journey.

Speaker 1:

Because if you've never strength trained before, if you've never lifted a weight before, I don't want you to just go into the gym and start lifting super heavy. And I definitely don't want you going out and starting to do plyometric training because, as we're going to get into in today's episode, that's something that you're going to want to work into slowly, because we want to make sure that we are minimizing your risk of injury and anything you do. If you just jump right in and you don't really know what you're doing, you're increasing your risk of injury. So again, here on the podcast, we are trying to help educate you so that you can start to understand all the stuff behind this and make some decisions that are going to help you and not hurt you in your training.

Speaker 2:

You said jump right in, as we're talking about plyometrics, I mean bing, and I really did not even intend that pun. We're going to do it multiple times. I can see this happening.

Speaker 1:

It's going to happen, all right. So let's first talk about heavy lifting and why heavy lifting is good for runners and the way that I kind of position this episode is heavy lifting is better for runners and it's like no plyometrics is better for runners. So let's first talk about heavy lifting and some of the top five reasons that you need to be doing heavy lifting as an endurance runner.

Speaker 2:

It looks awesome. Is that not number one?

Speaker 1:

It makes your body look awesome.

Speaker 2:

It does make your body look awesome, but that's not even like the main thing that we're going for. Heavy lifting is better because that's the best way to actually increase strength and develop muscles Like that's really why you're doing strength training. If you look at strength training as like one of the aspects of your running training, strength can help you get stronger and prevent injury and make you faster. But the key basis for doing strength, rather than just going and running more miles, is to actually increase your strength training and that's where you need heavy lifting.

Speaker 1:

Right and heavy lifting. So let me start out by saying the word heavy is subjective.

Speaker 2:

And relative.

Speaker 1:

And relative, right. So when we talk about lifting weights, we're really talking about resistance training, doing any sort of resistance training, and when we talk about heavy lifting specifically, it's lifting a weight that is challenging for you, like when you get to that six to 10 repetitions, it feels very challenging. So for some of you, that might be 10 pounds, that might be 20 pounds, that might be 50 pounds, depending on what exercise we're talking about. Some of you that might be five pounds when you just start out. And that's okay. Meet yourself where you are. That is number one. Do not just decide. Okay. Coach said I need to go lift heavy. So I'm going to go into the gym and I'm going to pick up the heaviest weight that I can lift. I'm going to try to bicep curl that thing, or I'm going to try to overhead press that thing or squat that thing. Not a good idea, all right. So remember, heavy is relative and it is also subjective.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you've put some exercise, given me some exercises and definitely fall into the category of heavy lifting. They are very difficult to do and I do it with body weight and that is a very challenging exercise to get eight of them out with proper form.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So let's talk about just the first thing with heavy lifting versus plyometrics. You always want to start resistance training before you jump into plyometrics. Okay, pun intended there. Okay, because you need to have some sort of strength basis before really starting into plyometrics, and we're going to get into that in the second part of the episode. So let's first talk about why lifting weights and resistance training is good for runners.

Speaker 1:

Number one increased strength and muscle development. Now there I heard someone say the other day I think it was on another podcast I was listening to. It might have been on social media, I can't remember, but I really liked it and it was. I don't think that running is necessary to be healthy, but I do think that strength training is necessary to be healthy, and I would agree with that. And there is so much research. We should probably link some of our previous episodes here in the show notes. There are so much research about the importance of strength training and resistance training for us. As we get older, strength training has so many benefits, like increasing your lean muscle mass, improving your ability to prevent falls when you get older, improving bone density and bone health. There's a lot of overall health benefits when it comes to strength training, and there are also a lot of very specific running benefits when it comes to strength training.

Speaker 2:

So if you actually are increasing your strength, then you actually have stronger leg muscles to do the running activity. Okay, like this is a direct thing Increase the strength. Stronger leg muscles leads to greater stride power. So every step you take you're able to propel yourself with greater I believe the scientific word here is oomph as you take your step, like because every step is giving you greater power, you can take a longer, more powerful stride. You can go up hills faster, you can go faster. Your every step just gets you stronger. And because on an easy day you have to tap into less of that power, you have greater endurance over a longer distance, a longer time.

Speaker 1:

Right, and when you have stronger leg muscles, it also leads to improved running economy. So you waste less energy when you're out there running, so when you have more efficient running form. So what's it like when you go out and run? Basically, you have one set of muscles that this is a very simplified way to think about it One set of muscles that are essentially propelling you forward and making you run forward, and then you have another set of muscles that are stabilizing the body to make sure that you don't just fall over or fall over to the side Right.

Speaker 1:

And so when those muscles are all strong and doing their job and they know when to turn on and when to turn off, your body becomes much more efficient and you're running economy improves. So when you waste less energy just trying to stabilize your body, you have more energy to propel yourself forward for longer and faster speeds and for longer distances. It also helps to reduce the risk of fatigue during long distance running. So because your muscles are stronger, they don't get as tired as quickly. Right, like, if you think about it, if you have been lifting weights for a while and say you're able to do 20 pound dumbbell curls, maybe you can do 10, 20 pound dumbbell curls and then you start to feel a little tired in that muscle. If you went and picked up a five pound dumbbell and started doing curls, you could do a lot more curls with a five pounder than you can with a 20 pounder. And it's because your muscle is stronger so it also has more endurance when you are giving it a lighter weight.

Speaker 2:

Right. So when you strengthen the muscles of your legs and then you go out and run at an L2, suddenly it's just not that challenging and it makes it so much farther away from your ceiling Like strength training helps essentially boost your ceiling. So well then, l2 is so far away and you can keep going faster. We can keep going further and further.

Speaker 1:

Right. Number two, which is related to number one, is injury prevention and joint stability. When you lift heavy and build muscle, that can also improve your joint stability and help to strengthen the tendons and ligaments that are supporting your joints. And again, when you build the stability around those joints and when you decrease the amount of fatigue that your muscles are experiencing by getting them stronger, you're going to decrease your risk of common running injuries, because your body is able to take the forces Right, because every time we go out there and run, we have forces that are being placed through our body and if our muscles are stronger and if our joints are more stable and our ligaments and our tendons are all stronger, we're going to be able to withstand those forces much better and reduce our risk for injury.

Speaker 2:

All right, I'm going to have to ask you, as the doctor of the here. We can strengthen ligaments. I thought we could strengthen muscles, like we can actually increase the robustness of a ligament, the less likelihood of ligaments and tendons to tear over time. Is that what we're doing? Because we're not actually increasing. Like you, lift your muscles, get bigger and stronger. We don't have that same adaptation with tendons, but do they just become, like, more resilient?

Speaker 1:

Yes, and we hope to improve stiffness. Okay, right, stiffness is like a speaking of tendons, specifically the Achilles tendon is a very easy example to use for runners Right. So the Achilles tendon attaches your calf muscle to your calcaneus, which is your heel bone with you.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and so when we think of our tendons, our tendons act like a spring. So, yes, our muscles are stronger and as we strengthen the muscles, but we also want to make sure that those tendons are stronger, because the stronger they are and the stiffer that spring is, the more when you compress a spring, if you have a very stiff spring, when you compress it it bounces back a lot more Right, a lot stronger. How would you say that as a physics teacher?

Speaker 2:

No, it bounces, that's right.

Speaker 1:

Like when it just like it pushes out more right. So it's like if you have a slingshot also and you have a really tight rubber band and you pull that rubber band back and you let it go, that ball or whatever you're launching, it's going to go a lot further than if you have, like, a really loose and wiggly rubber band.

Speaker 2:

Right. So by doing the actual strength training like challenging heavy lifting, you're strengthening the muscle. So in your slingshot analogy you're actually able to pull the slingshot back with greater force.

Speaker 1:

But in the slingshot, like the rubber band, also would get fatter when you strengthen the muscle, if we're thinking about that and as an analogy right because, like when you're strengthening the muscle, you're actually building more muscle fibers on there and you're increasing the size of all the muscle fibers as well.

Speaker 2:

And then the tendons is allowing that thick rubber band to now be like a springier.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, right.

Speaker 2:

Not very lax.

Speaker 1:

Exactly so. It's like tighter, essentially.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

And so, like some people think of tightness as a bad thing and stiffness as a bad thing, but in the more we're talking about tendons, stiffness is actually a good thing, because that means that when the tendon is compressed, it's going to then spring back with greater force, which is what we want.

Speaker 2:

Right. It's giving you that rebound effect and it's giving you stability within the joint, so less likely to have injury.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, all right, let's move on to number three. All right.

Speaker 2:

Number three improved running mechanics. We like alluded to this one before, but this one needs its own standby. Heavy lifting helps kind of fix muscle imbalances. If you're in there lifting heavy weights and Angie is a big proponent of single leg exercises because then you can isolate your two sides you can spot muscle imbalances real quickly. And if you go out and you just keep running and you have imbalances from side to side, you don't really even notice this. We have a kid on the team who has like an injury on one side and she has no idea that her form looks completely off balance. Everybody else can see it, but she can't even feel it as she runs. It feels like she's just running because it's normal to her, because that's normal Right. So this is what happens when you have muscle imbalances. You go running down the road and you're like this is just what it feels like when I run. But when you're into the gym you can tell the difference in strength from one side to the other and heavy lifting can actually help correct these imbalances and weaknesses.

Speaker 1:

Right, and when we're watching this specific runner in particular, when I watch her run, she has this huge arm swing Like. She swings her arm like basically all the way across her stomach when she's running more on one side than on the other and it's because your upper body is trying to counterbalance your lower body. So she's got a lot of weakness on the one side in her hips and so, because of that lack of stability, her upper body is trying to compensate and trying to counterbalance that. And when your body is constantly trying to compensate and muscles are doing jobs that they're not supposed to be doing, that can lead to pain and injury and breakdown and definitely slower running times.

Speaker 2:

Because it leads to a lot of inefficiency. Muscles are doing things they're not supposed to be doing, and so you just get tired way faster because you're using muscles and ways that they're like I'm not supposed to be doing anything right now, and yet it's burning energy.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, like. Think about it as an example at work. Like if you go to work and someone is out sick that day and all of a sudden you need to help compensate for their tasks, you're going to become much less efficient at doing your own tasks and getting your work done Because you're now doing the job of two people, right? So you're trying to make up for Julia that's absent today, and so you're trying to do two jobs at the same time. And that's what happens in our body also. Our body, like our muscles, are trying to do their job, but they're also trying to make up for the weakness that Julia, aka the gluteus medius, is not doing its job to help stabilize the body.

Speaker 2:

That is the exact muscle I was going to name, because that is the one that I did not used to be able to activate. So what was I using instead? Hamstring.

Speaker 1:

Well, I mean, you could activate it, you, just like there was definitely a weakness in it.

Speaker 2:

I could barely activate it. You like poked it and you're like no use this muscle. I'm like I don't know how to move that Consciously activate it, yes consciously activate it. I could not make it fire by thinking about it. Which? Was really weird, yeah, but then I was using what? I mean probably a whole host of other things.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, yeah, it often is like hip flexors and TFL, like your tensor fascial, a lot it's right there and like there's piriformis jumps in and like there's a lot of things that happen and everybody's a little bit different and how they compensate with it.

Speaker 2:

Right, but the ultimate result was my knees hurt all the time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, but you used that. Did you use the have hamstring issues?

Speaker 2:

No, I had knee issues. I had pain all over the place.

Speaker 1:

Well, I mean with you resulted knee problems yeah.

Speaker 1:

And with you, like because your gluteus medius, it, wasn't doing its job stabilizing your knee, was crashing inward and so you were getting a lot of force on the knee. That wasn't supposed to be there and that's why I always say that, like the knee, the poor knee is kind of like the, the joint that bears the brunt of weaknesses in other areas. So it's it's usually not a knee problem, like sometimes it is especially like if you're older and you've developed arthritis and things like that. But a lot of times knee pain is not actually due to a knee problem, it's due to a problem in the hip or even the foot. It's just kind of the, the middle child that gets abused.

Speaker 2:

Right. If there's weakness above it, it falls below. If there's weakness below, it pushes up. But the knee is at the middle of everything. Every step you you land at, it gets wonky and out of place.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, and that kind of is a is a good example of when there is muscle weakness and muscle imbalance, how pain and injury can develop because of a change in your running mechanics.

Speaker 1:

Because, for example, if your hip is weak and, like I just mentioned, when you land, if your knee is crashing in, that's going to change your running mechanics and so that can lead to problems.

Speaker 1:

So, but through lifting and resistance training and strengthening those weak muscles, you can help improve your mechanics and your efficiency so that that need doesn't crash in as much during each stride. And when you have a stronger, stronger hips, which is, you know, I like to think of the core as your stomach muscles, your back muscles, your hip muscles and even your shoulder muscles, for that matter. But when you have a stronger core and a stronger lower body, you can maintain better running form, which is going to allow for more effective transfer of power during each stride. So when you're moving from your left foot to your right foot, over and over and over again, your body is essentially transferring that energy from one side to the other and muscles are turning on and off, on and off. This is just the way that our bodies work when we run and when our muscles are stronger they can kind of trade off a lot easier, like if you go to the Seattle seafood market and you watch the guys like throw the big fish they just do it Like pikes peak.

Speaker 1:

I mean, we've never been there. I really want to go at some point, but they just throw those fish like hours and hours and hours of the day, but they're just transferring from one guy to the other, one guy to the other, and they are all doing their job, and they're all doing their job efficiently.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

And if one guy's missing, well dang it.

Speaker 2:

Julia Dang it, Julia Dang it, glute medias. But you know, besides the, everybody has to do their job in order, one of the other things of strengthening that core. Every time you land, if your foot's actually landing and transferring its forces in a normal, correct pattern, so it's. It's moving from heel through the the front of your foot and your knees not crashing in. All the forces can keep moving you forward. Instead of, as you move from one foot to the other foot, your force is moving left and right. You want your forces moving forward because that's the direction that you're running in and so many people have little imbalances and the muscles keep trying to fire you left or right. Just because you're, you're overcompensating for a lack of stability and you're using so much energy that you could be using to propel yourself forward and faster and farther.

Speaker 1:

Yep, let's move on to number four, which is enhanced power output.

Speaker 1:

So when you lift heavy, when you challenge your muscles, that helps to develop your fast twitch muscle fibers, which are crucial for more explosive movements. And now you might be thinking to yourself now, well, I'm an endurance runner, I run marathons or I run half marathons. That's not really explosive movement and that's true. This is more important for sprinters than it is for marathon runners when we're talking about explosive types of movements. But fast twitch muscle fibers are very important because they are the ones that produce more power. So while we, as endurance runners, have more type one, which are our endurance muscle fibers, or slow twitch muscle fibers, we tend to have more of those than we have of the fast twitch muscle fibers. Those fast twitch muscle fibers are still very important for us, especially as we get older, because those can help us to again maintain that lean muscle mass, improve our bone health, our bone density and all these other benefits of just general health. But it can also help to improve again our, our efficiency and our running form when we're out there, even for longer periods of time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean at the end of a race, as your slow twitch fibers are fatiguing and they're like uh, is anybody here to help? The fast twitch guys are going to step up. They aren't going to last as long, but they are going to step up and try and do something. You know there's also times in various runs where you do want these fast twitch fibers. If you're going uphill, the fast twitch fibers are going to kick in a whole lot more. If one of the good ones is surging during races and you might be thinking to yourself well, I've never been out there at the front of the pack train and put surges on people and drop the people that I'm with. Have you ever been in a large race and tried to get to the water table?

Speaker 1:

Or to beat the banana.

Speaker 2:

Sure, or to get away from the water table as that crowd forms up, like you got to get in and get out of there and you're moving much faster during that brief period of time. That's a search, even if you're not thinking about racing as a search. Like there are times during a long distance race where you're going to pick it up over short periods of time and the fast twitch, muscle fibers have to kick in. And then, of course, when you see the finish line and there's still a banana in front of you, you got to chase that thing down.

Speaker 1:

Well, exactly Anytime you see that finish line, most people are going to try to accelerate. Some people are just going to try to get across the finish line because they're just done by that point.

Speaker 2:

That was my last race.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, totally. But there's a lot of us that somehow, when we finally see that finish line no matter how tired we were about 30 seconds before that, when we first see that finish line, all of a sudden we have this new burst of energy and so we're going to want to be able to put in that final kick to finish the race strong. That's going to be more of those fast twitch muscle fibers kicking in.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, especially at the end of a long race, because they're not as tired, right.

Speaker 1:

Type ones are very tired at that point. Right, exactly All right. Number five cross training benefits Okay, heavy lifting is an excellent form of cross training for runners, and I think that sometimes, when we think about cross training, we think about other aerobic endurance activities. Oh, 100%.

Speaker 2:

If you tell a runner what kind of cross training do you do, they do. They'll talk about a bike, an elliptical maybe a stair master in swimming. Sometimes they use a rowing machine. No one thinks I go to the gym and I lift heavy things, and yet great cross training.

Speaker 1:

Right, because cross training is just other activities that you do outside of running, like if running is your main sport. If running is your main activity, cross training is anything that you do other than that. So it helps to provide a break from this repetitive impact of running while still targeting the same muscle group. So you're still working out the muscles that are benefiting you as a runner. You're just working them out in different ways and with less impact because you don't have that forceful body weight impact with every single step in weightlifting that you do in running.

Speaker 2:

Right. So as long as you're actually doing exercises that are working the muscles that you should be working as a runner which is why I always go to Angie to figure out which exercises should I do Because you go into the gym, there's like 400 different exercises that you could do in the gym. You look like you go into one of these big gyms. There's machines everywhere and there's free weights and cables. So I just go to Angie. I'm like what is it that I can actually do that is going to directly benefit me and make me a better runner? Right, that's the time possible. Well, that is my personal preference. I would like to be in and out. This is the equipment that I have Is this? How do I use it most efficiently to improve my running?

Speaker 1:

Right and this is one of the other mistakes that I often see runners make is they think that running is enough strength training for their legs, so they don't lift for their legs.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's a bad one.

Speaker 1:

Like sometimes, when I talk to them about strength training, I'm like, oh, do you strength training? They're like, yep, I do upper body. And I said, well, what about your legs? And they say, well, my legs I strengthen through running and that's not sufficient. Okay, if you are adding in speed work and hill work, that is a form of strength training for your legs, a form of it.

Speaker 1:

But it is different that, because you're still, you still have the impact of running when you're doing those types of things, you're still not taking a break from that impact. So, a lot of people, if all you do is run, you are putting yourself at a higher risk for repetitive use injuries. When you train your muscles in different ways and in different directions, like what happens during strength training, you can just make yourself more injury resistant. That doesn't mean you have a 0% risk of injury. We all have a risk of injury at you know, especially as we get older. It's, it's there, right, sometimes we do stupid stuff. If you're like me and you go to the gym sometimes and you lift weights they're a little too heavy and you think that your ego is a little too big then sometimes you get hurt doing this stuff.

Speaker 2:

Every hotel gym we go to look at these weights.

Speaker 1:

I mean not everyone. The last one we went to, I think I was. I did a really good job.

Speaker 2:

The last time you did and they had a nice setup and you could have overdone it.

Speaker 1:

I could have, but I did not. I was proud of you. Sometimes I get excited. I'm very proud of you so, but? But the point is, you do need to be strength training, you do need to be doing strength exercises for your legs and hopefully you know the last five reasons we just talked about. Help has has helped to convince you of that. So now let's get into plyometrics and why runners should be doing plyometrics as well.

Speaker 2:

Excellent as well, or instead.

Speaker 1:

Let's talk about it. Oh goody.

Speaker 2:

All right. So what? What are plyometrics Cause to me? I still look back to the plyometrics that I did when I was in junior high and was thoroughly confident that I was going to make it in the NBA.

Speaker 1:

Which are what Like? What are the plyometrics that you did?

Speaker 2:

I was hopping over boards in my backyard Like I had a. I had like a two by four and I would do like multiple hops forward and then I was doing side hops over it. I had all sorts. I had a whole plio routine that that my father worked out for me. It was amazing, that's adorable. I know it was awesome.

Speaker 1:

I'm like imagining you with your like super blonde hair out there doing all these little exercises Hopping around in the backyard.

Speaker 2:

It was great, it's fantastic I was going to make it in the NBA.

Speaker 1:

I love it.

Speaker 2:

But I didn't make the freshman team.

Speaker 1:

Come on, michael Jordan, michael Jordan didn't either.

Speaker 2:

The coach pulled me aside and said I talked to the cross country coach, he thinks maybe you should prep for the upcoming track season. That's not what Jordan's coach told him.

Speaker 1:

That's not what Jordan said. All right, so what is plyometrics? Plyometric training is essentially what's known as or it used to be known as jump training, and it's basically explosive body weight exercises that utilize the muscle stretch shortening cycle, and basically what that means is there are the way that our muscles work when we stretch them. Well, we can stretch them and then we can shorten them. So kind of the basis behind plyometrics training is that you stretch. It's a controlled lengthening of the muscle followed by a rapid shortening of the muscle in order to produce the maximal force in the shortest amount of time.

Speaker 2:

Okay, does that make any sense? Yes, this is a very specific example, like I used to like. To me, plyometrics involves jump training, because that's that. That is when I did it. It was still called jump training. So if I'm hopping, that's a form of plyometrics. How does my hopping on one foot like jump rope is plyometrics right? Yes, okay, how is jump rope, jumping rope, this whole stretch, shortening cycle.

Speaker 1:

So, basically, when you're doing jump rope or just kind of jumping up and down on your toes because that is a very basic form of plyometric training your calf muscle is, when you land, your calf muscle is lengthening. And then when you jump up and go up onto your toes, that calf muscle is shortening. Okay, so you lengthen the muscle in order to get a more explosive shortening of the muscle back and forth, back and forth. So that's just kind of a basic level of it, right, it's just like it's lengthening with a quick contraction to help explode you back up.

Speaker 1:

So another example would be a box jump. So you would, you can just like jump up onto a box, so kind of a. What you would want to think about for to make it plyometric, like a box jump is is plyometric training. But to take it one step further is like you would jump up onto the box, jump back down and then jump back up as really quickly, right, because jumping back down, landing again, is going to shorten that or, sorry, lengthen the muscle and then you want to explode back up very quickly and rapidly shorten the muscle. So it's like jumping down and then jumping right back up.

Speaker 2:

Right, that's where the the plio comes from is jumping off of the box and then exploding back off of the ground. Like if you jump off a box and then you stand on the ground for a little bit and then you hop back up to the other, you're losing that like explosive part, and that's kind of the crux of plyometrics.

Speaker 1:

Exactly Okay, I've got it Okay. So that's basically what plyometrics are now crushing this in seventh grade. Why are plyometrics important for runners? Number one when you run, you're essentially jumping from one foot to another. Yes, that's what running is, if you're thinking about it. So it makes sense that we would want to incorporate some jump training If you're essentially jumping from one foot to another over and over and over again, essentially 180 times per minute is running itself Plyometrics.

Speaker 1:

I would say yes. I would say that it is because we are essentially propelling ourselves forward and we are utilizing the stretch shortening cycle. I think that sprinting would be considered more plyometric than endurance running Right, like there are levels of plyometrics that you can talk about.

Speaker 2:

Well, I mean, this goes to like lifting. There's levels of how heavy lifting is. There's levels of how explosive your plyometric movements are.

Speaker 1:

Right, and you can make a lot of exercises into plyometrics, like you can make squats into plyometrics as well. Right Jump squats are plyometric exercises. You go down into a deep squat and you lengthen the muscle and then you explode upward and shorten the muscle rapidly Right. But squatting with a bar on your back and going down and up slowly is not plyometrics.

Speaker 2:

And jump squats with a bar on your back is probably going to be painful. It's not a good idea. It seems like a bad choice.

Speaker 1:

Same thing, like with pushups. Is pushups a plyometric exercise? It depends how you do it Right. Like if you go down slowly, hold it and then go up slowly, that's not plyometrics. But if you go down slowly and stretch the muscle and then push up very fast, that is a plyometric exercise for your chest, especially if you're trying to explode yourself off the ground. Right.

Speaker 2:

Like clap pushups are definitely plyometric.

Speaker 1:

Right, like, that's like jumping pushups basically, yeah, like jumping off the ground. So it depends on the way that you do it. Okay, like, and that's really what makes if you're doing like a lengthening of the muscle followed by a rapid shortening of the muscle, that is what's considered plyometrics.

Speaker 2:

Anything that seems explosive.

Speaker 1:

Right. So why are plyometrics important for runners? So, number one explosive power development. Plyometrics, like we just talked about, focus on these rapid, explosive movements that generate force quickly. So every time we do them, we are helping to improve this stretch shortening cycle of the muscles, so that we are allowing our muscles to become more powerful with each of our strides. So, like I said, this is more beneficial and more important to incorporate for sprinters versus endurance athletes, but endurance athletes can still get a lot of benefits from incorporating plyometric training.

Speaker 2:

Well, I mean, this still kind of goes back to what we were talking in powerlifting is just a different way to go at it From strength training is you're still increasing the ability to rebound off the ground more, and if you can hit the ground and bounce back up better, instead of wasting the energy on the ground, it's the tightness of the spring. If you can hit the ground and bounce back up, that's better than hitting the ground and letting the ground absorb all the forces. This is like what super shoes are. Taking this into account, they're providing the propelling for you.

Speaker 2:

You used to be able to see sometimes who essentially had stronger, more propelling Achilles like the tighter Achilles would off, they would shoot people down the road. And now, super shoes off, they would shoot people off. They go Like I mean essentially, wow, look at that man's Achilles. Well, because if you, if you look at like the Achilles as a slingshot that this is what I had in my head is the tendons are like a slingshot, so it would shoot him down the road. But now you got super shoes, you hit the ground and they just go flying down the road themselves.

Speaker 1:

It does it for you. Yeah, so, but yes that essentially, what you're doing is like you're putting more power into each stride and each step.

Speaker 2:

So you're automatically faster.

Speaker 1:

Well, because, if you think about it, you're taking, if you keep your cadence the same, if you say that your cadence is 180 steps per minute and you take longer steps because you're able to produce more force. So producing more force with each step is going to make it so that you're essentially going further with every single stride. So if you take the same amount of steps and you increase your stride length, you're going to be faster, you're going to cover that distance quicker.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you and I have a very similar cadence, but we don't go the same rate because my stride length is like double mine, it's a bunch more than yours.

Speaker 1:

It's way, I mean, and part of that is because you have longer legs.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's true.

Speaker 1:

But apparently you have quite the strong Achilles that is propelling you down the road as well, it's just shoot me down the road, go Achilles. That is not Julia.

Speaker 2:

No, Way to show up Achilles.

Speaker 1:

Oh, we could just call it Achilles. There we go, all right. So number two plyometrics are specific to running movement. So a lot of plyometrics like Kevin kind of alluded to how I really like to do strength training that with single leg exercises. I really like to focus on single leg exercises for runners, which is very, very true. A lot of plyometrics are also single leg, especially the plyometrics that are beneficial for runners.

Speaker 1:

So, like bounding, skipping drills are a basic form of plyometrics for runners as well. And if you're in the academy, you know that we put drills on your plan every single week. That is to help with this, help with explosive, the explosivity of your muscles and the stiffness of your tendons. It's also to help improve your running form and your running efficiency by just kind of doing some of these little movements that you might think are not a big deal. Like a lot of people, when we, when we put drills on their schedule, they ask, oh, do I really have to do those? Like they make me feel silly, and I say, well, no, you don't have to do anything right, but we recommend that you do them because there's a host of benefits from these silly little exercises that take you five minutes to do after your run.

Speaker 2:

And one of them is muscle coordination. To go to one of your favorite analogies of how muscles work, If you have, you know, five guys rowing a boat, the boat's going to move at a certain speed. But if you have 20 guys all rowing the boat together, it's going to go a whole heck of a lot faster. If you have 20 guys rowing and they're not rowing in unison, which could be happening with you know, all the different muscle fibers inside of a muscle. If they're not all firing together, no matter how many of them are firing, if they're not working smoothly, it doesn't work. Well, we were.

Speaker 2:

We had a mass at school today and the one song you know people were clapping along to, and so, because it's a group of high school kids, then there's always the people that think that they're funny to not clap on beat or to purposely just clap every other beat. So they were messing it up, and so now it sounds terrible. Well, the same thing can happen if all of your muscle fibers are not firing in unison. You want them all working together. You get the best, strongest output. You get everybody clapping together and it sounds great. You get jokesters clapping off beat and it's chaos. You don't want chaos down in your calves.

Speaker 1:

No, no, no, no, no. Chaos in your calves. Yeah, we had mass at like. I went to mass with the girl school today, and so that is a bunch of kindergartners that really just don't even know how. I mean it's obviously the whole school, from K through eighth grade. A lot of them just don't have the beat.

Speaker 2:

Oh no, the juniors have the beat, they're just avoiding it.

Speaker 1:

They're just like trying to be problematic, right? So playa metrics often mimic the movement patterns found in running, like we mentioned, you know, skipping and jumping and bounding and those kinds of things, and they also involve these dynamic, multi joint movements. So they're more compound type movements and we we can talk about lifting and a lot of the heavy lifts like squats and dead lifts and those kinds of things are also multi, joint, compound types of movements which make them very effective for us as runners. But when we're talking about squatting and dead lifts, you can do those with two legs on the ground, do a double leg like normal squat or normal deadlift. You can also do single leg squats and single leg deadlifts.

Speaker 1:

But just because of the nature of the activity, when you are decreasing the amount of stability by only doing it on one leg, you need to also decrease the amount of weight that you're lifting, because you're again trying to do two things at once. You're trying to lift heavy and also stabilize the body all at the same time. Plyometrics when we kind of move over to this world, it is this more dynamic, explosive type of movement. So you can do these faster movements because typically in heavy lifting we talk about going slower to make sure that you're doing everything correctly and you're maintaining the proper form and you're not putting yourself at a higher risk for injury. But with plyometrics these are more. These are body weight exercises, so you can do some of these more dynamic, explosive types of movements with less List, with less risk of injury right because you're just, you're naturally moving faster when you're doing some of these Explosive things, especially as you're easing into it, like drills.

Speaker 2:

Strides, I think, is a good form of plyometrics, like running is plyometrics and faster running is more explosive. So if you're doing strides, that's a good thing. If you're just getting into it, strides uphill also reduces your impact, right. Rather like strides downhill is going to be like increasing the pounding on your body, but strides uphill naturally will reduce some of that impact also right Number three.

Speaker 1:

Plyometrics help to improve your reactive strength and proprioception. What a fun cocktail party word right, yeah proprioception. Okay, this is a really fun one that I learned back in PT school. So what is proprioception? Proprioception is your body's awareness of itself in space. So right now, even though I am not looking at my hand, I know where my left hand currently is. Does that make sense?

Speaker 2:

Yes, like.

Speaker 1:

I know where my left foot currently is, even though I'm not looking at it. That's what proprioception is right. Kinesiastic, like kinesisia, is your body's, your awareness of your movement in space.

Speaker 2:

That's what I learned about when I was young right.

Speaker 1:

So that's kinesisia. Proprioception is just where your body is in space. Knowing where your body is.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I didn't know the fancy term for it, but I used to get motion sick on everything. That's kinesisia, because like you're in a plane that's moving, so your body is moving, but if you look around you it doesn't feel like it's moving, and then you get all screwy right.

Speaker 1:

So proprioception is basically a neurological Feature of our body. So because it's the nerves that are communicating to our brain to tell us where our body parts are in space, and so this is really important. Especially if you are running on trails or any sort of uneven terrain, it's very important for your body to know what position it's in, like it's, or if you're running on a banked road, even to know that my foot's not flat right now, my ankle is kind of twisted off to the side right, and so that different muscles can turn on and different muscles can stabilize your body and react to the surfaces that you're landing on. And so plyometrics helps to Improve your body's ability to react and your body's ability to know where it is in space, so that it can adapt better to various terrains or to various conditions, like people that are Winter runners and running on ice or in more slippery conditions. Again, this is a very important thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean you point out, trail running like this is a big thing. You have to be able to look up at the trail in front of you and be like, okay, well, there's a branch that I'm gonna have to dip under and there's some roots in the road and this rock, and then at the trail, like Banks to the right, but you're not staring at your feet the entire time that you're jumping over roots and branches. You see one coming and you're like, okay, in two steps I'm gonna need to take a slightly longer stride, and it just happens that's proprioception, and plyometrics enhances your ability to Know exactly where your feet are landing and what your arms are doing, so that Everything sort of balances and coordinates together right, because the whole idea of this Stretch shortening cycle that we talked about with plyometrics, that's a neurological thing, that's a neuromuscular Coordination pattern that we are improving when we do plyometric training.

Speaker 1:

Because, yes, muscle strength is very important the actual size and force that our muscles are able to produce but the message that our brain sends to our muscles and our body's ability to react is also very important, is also a very Important part for us as runners, and that's a lot of what we're also training in plyometrics. We're kind of training that neuromuscular side of things versus the actual size and strength of the muscle fibers themselves.

Speaker 2:

Because it doesn't actually matter how strong the muscle is. If your brain can't communicate, turn on and fire, right then it's okay. Well, it's just gonna sit here and do nothing like that planet fitness commercial.

Speaker 1:

Remember the one of the guys like I picked things up and put them down. Like, yeah, you're strong, but like does your mother, does your body actually know how to work? Like we've all kind of seen that bull in the china shop, kind of Kid, especially like when the kids are kind of young and they're going through puberty and they don't really have full control of their body yet.

Speaker 1:

All right, like there are some very strong kids out there, but they don't know how to coordinate their muscles and so they can't actually Take advantage of that strength, and so plyometrics helps us to basically take advantage of the strength that we have in a better way.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, this is how I feel. At the end of like 5k is where I go for a kick and my legs are moving at a speed and I'm not quite sure how they're doing it. I'm thoroughly confident that I'm going to fall over the entire time. I have enough Built-in muscle memory that the legs just keep going and doing what they're supposed to do and the brain is doing its best to Scream at my legs just keep turning, like you have a pattern of firing on and off. You must maintain this or you're gonna fall over. But it's this continuous Scream from the brain down to the legs, right?

Speaker 1:

Because you've done it so many times right. All right. Number four enhanced muscular endurance. So plyometric exercises, like I mentioned, don't Usually involve weights. They are body weight types of exercises so they often involve higher repetitions and shorter rest periods. So your muscles start to like, your muscular endurance improves, your muscles are able to Last for longer, be able to produce consistent force over time.

Speaker 2:

Right because of the short rest period that it has to figure out.

Speaker 1:

Okay, you need me to keep firing and I don't get to take a break, so it has to build up its own endurance right and this is very beneficial for us on longer runs because we are Maintaining our form and our power during those longer runs, because we have better muscular endurance.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean that one's pretty cut, cut and dry on that one. You improve endurance and you last longer, and you last longer with better form. You're not like hunched over on the the final few miles of your half marathon because we've all seen this like people on the back Half of a marathon, a half marathon, they suddenly start bending a whole lot at the hips and now they're just angled the entire time. They're staring at the ground in front of them because they can't be upright. So the the plyometrics in enhances not just the strength of your legs but everything, so you're able to maintain proper running form throughout the entire length of your race exactly.

Speaker 1:

And then number five is Injury resilience and joint health. So again, like we mentioned, with heavy lifting, plyometrics can also help to strengthen your tendons, your ligaments, your connective tissues, your muscles. And Again, because we're improving the neuromuscular aspect of our bodies and you know the brain Body connection that we have through plyometrics it's also improving the body's ability to handle the stress of running, which is going to help decrease the likelihood of those repetitive use injuries that are so common in runners.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I have a question here on on separating from the strength training from the plyometrics. Okay, the heavy lifting, yeah, the plyometrics is more neuromuscular because you have to have this connection Right. Is that based off of the speed, like the? Obviously there's some neuro connection. When I'm lifting, like if I'm doing a squat and I'm down at the bottom of the squat, my brain has to say we're going to stand up now. It just doesn't have to give the message quite as rapidly. Is that the difference here?

Speaker 1:

That's part of it, but there's also like I'm trying not to get too, too scientific, but there's actually stuff that happens at the level of the muscle. Okay, it doesn't have to go to the brain.

Speaker 1:

Oh yes, that's, true Right so there's a muscle spindle and a Golgi tendon organ, like if we're gonna get really specific in science, see and and none of that actually work. That doesn't require the muscle spindle is just has to go to the spinal cord, doesn't have to go Up to the brain. So it's a much quicker and faster react reaction.

Speaker 2:

So that's what we're enhancing when we're dealing with Plyometrics. That's a lot of it.

Speaker 1:

It's not that the only thing, but yes, the the muscle spindle and the Golgi tendon organ, like that's the cut more of the muscle, like the stretch shortening cycle that we're working on cool and we're not really activating that when we're doing like slower lifts yes, but not as much. Yes, just differently. Yeah, it's, it's, yeah, it's like a deeper dive than we really want to get into, especially since we're already 46 minutes.

Speaker 2:

But I think what you just said there is is a good synopsis, for it is. Yes, but differently, and that's really what we've got here on heavy lifting versus plyometrics, is one better or worse than the other?

Speaker 1:

They're different right, and both are very beneficial for runners and that's really where we want to kind of wrap this episode up is that both Heavy lifting and plyometrics are beneficial for you as a runner?

Speaker 2:

It's not either or it's both, and that's like your favorite phrase is both and it really has become one of my favorite things your go to.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think it might be the topic or the name of my next podcast whenever I start that excellent.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but it's really important for us as runners to include this mixture of heavy lifting and plyometrics so that we can get all of the benefits that we talked about. And if you're paying attention to the episode, you probably noticed some repeat right. Like we talked about increased how both heavy lifting and plyometrics improves your running efficiency and your running form. How both of them improve your injury resilience and your joint health. How both of them improve your. You know, muscle strength, like both things help with a lot of similar results or outcomes, but they do the do it a little differently, and so it's also kind of fun to do strength training in different ways, because it kind of mixes up your routine and your trip. When you train muscles differently, you get different benefits.

Speaker 2:

Right and you get continued benefits, like if you just keep training the same way, same as just going out. For you know, if you go on a run an easy 30 minute run day after day after day, you're going to reach a plateau much faster. If you do the same strength training routine over and over, it's going to plateau. If you can mix in plyometrics, it allows you to keep making adaptations.

Speaker 1:

And since running is a plyometric activity, you want to be incorporating plyometric types of activities into your training so that you're better prepared as a runner.

Speaker 2:

Yes, always better prepared, that's always a good choice.

Speaker 1:

So, as always, there's not one cut and dry answer. It is both here and when you combine the two, you're going to get some really good benefits and advantages in your training, and if you need help with that, reach out to us. Okay, we? This is what we love to help runners with. We love helping runners to find and or to take training plans and modify them and create a plan that actually works for you in your real life.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, is there anything that you want to cover before? Like you briefly mentioned at the beginning here heavy lifting and plyometrics you should not just leap right into those things. There should be some some intro, some making sure that you can handle basic body movements before you hit plyometrics or heavy lifting.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I mentioned our strength guide right.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so the strength, that is a great place to start. That's body weight.

Speaker 1:

That is a body weight, and it also does incorporate some very basic plyometrics like air jump rope which you, which is a.

Speaker 2:

that's one of the exercises in the guide.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Right and like people are like oh, why am I doing this? It's not for cardio, it's because of plyometrics.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

It's because we're we're just starting to train some of those things. So, yeah, just adding some two-legged hops like calf raises great exercise. But if you do like little calf hops, that's a great kind of entry level plyometric exercise. That's an exercise that you can do as well.

Speaker 2:

Wonderful, so don't don't go overboard of. Suddenly you heard this one you're like I'm going to do all the heavy lifting and the plyometrics, ease into it. Start where you actually are before you start upping the weights, before you start increasing and hopping all over the place. Heavy lifting, as we pointed out, is relative, so ease yourself in and make sure that you know where you actually are.

Speaker 1:

Exactly so. As always. You guys, if this episode was helpful, please share it on social media, share it with a friend and leave us a review on Apple Podcast so that we can reach and help more runners. And thank you for spending this time with us. This has been the Real Life Runners Podcast, episode number 331. Now get out there and run your life.

Strength Training
Benefits of Strength Training for Runners
Heavy Lifting's Impact on Running Efficiency
Cross Training Benefits for Runners
The Importance of Plyometrics for Runners
Benefits of Plyometric Training for Runners
Benefits of Heavy Lifting and Plyometrics