Week 12 - I've Got to Keep On Keepin' On

To steal a timeless lyric from the old classic "Steve Miller Band", I am now getting into the routine, and I've got to keep on keepin' on. I am pleased that by the beginning of week 12, I am now finally getting really comfortable with doing my 30 minute runs after finishing my strength workout.

(I know this is a running site - and I freakin' LOVE the C25K program - but I will digress just a little here.)

It seems pretty common for people in this community to want to lose weight; I count myself in that number. Running, especially if you are otherwise on the couch, is a fantastic way to improve fitness and even lose weight.

Strength training, combined with cardio (running) is even better. In order to be healthy, lose inches and keep off the weight already lost, it is important to lose fat, and preserve - or even build - muscle. Muscle is a hungry tissue, it burns perhaps 50 cal per pound per day, at rest. (Fat burns maybe 4 cal per day per pound.) If I were just running and doing nothing else, the muscles I use heavily in running (legs, lower back, bum esp.) would be getting a decent workout and would probably be preserved, but my body might start eating other muscle to fuel the running (such as from my upper body), rather than just eating up my extra flab. So I lift weights too - which tells my body that my muscles are off-limits as fuel, and sends it to the chubby sections looking for food when I run. As a consequence, although my weight loss continues to be pretty slow, I am staying strong, keeping my metabolism revved up, and less likely to gain the weight back.

So far, it hasn't made me much faster, because I am already tired when I start my runs. But I am finally at a point where I can manage the same speed and distance as before (when I went out fresh to run), following my other workout. If you are graduated, or approaching graduation and looking for something to do "in life after Laura", I hope you will consider some kind of strength training as a supplement to your new-found addiction to running.

***A special thanks to *sossylmlamoule* for pointing out that there is now a great Strength and Flexibility Series by the makers of C25K. (At the time of the original post, it was not yet available.) I read a bit about the program, although I haven't done it yet, and it looks like a really solid, well-planned workout series, designed to complement your C25K experience. I particularly like all the videos showing and explaining proper form, which is critical if you want good results without injury. It may be too easy for experienced strength-trainers (just as C25K would be easy for experienced, fit runners), but is a good starting point for beginners, and may still give good results for those who have already been doing it for a while. If nothing else, it is a good refresher on form, and may liven up your established workout routines.

nhs.uk/LiveWell/strength-an...

18 Replies

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  • Interesting - I'm interested in complementing my running with something, but can e.g. squats or push-ups be used as a replacement for strength training?

  • As a matter of fact, squats and pushups ARE strength training (and currently part of my routine!) Strength training exercises include lift weights, but also include exercises that use your own body as resistance. Pull-ups, push ups, crunches, chair dips, squats and lunges are all examples of strength-training exercises that require no special equipment at all. Some yoga and pilates-type workouts also count.

  • I have been advocating this very same training program on here, also. I participate in a fitness bootcamp 4 days a week, and run on two of those days. On two of the off days, I do strength training homework from bootcamp, and will run on 1 or 2 of those days, depending on how the training schedule works out.

    I always run slowly, and see no difference between running on days that I workout vs. non-workout days. I do know that I have more stamina. I run with the program twice per session (once up the trail and again on the return), and although I am on Wk 2 R2, I ran for 30 minutes today on the way back to my starting point.

    Since April I have started eating a much more nutritious diet, and in the right portions which leaves me never hungry. I have lost 21 pounds thus far, and feel stronger and more energetic than I have in 15 years. This is a lifestyle change for me, and one that I am truly enjoying.

  • Congrats on your dramatic lifestyle improvements. You are absolutely right, keepntabs. I am glad it is working so well for you!

  • Bravo!

  • Boy, I need a proofreader. I ran Wk 6 R2 yesterday. During Wk 2 I did start my routine of running the sessions twice, but there was NO way that I could have run 30 minutes at that time.

    Isn't it amazing how quickly this program shows us how to get out of our own way, and see the potential in getting fit that we probably would have talked ourselves out of if left to our own devices? Thank you NHS for offering this version of C25K, and thanks to all of you in this community for providing so much support for each other.

  • Thanks, this is really interesting. It makes sense, I will have to try and do some weights, though I find it difficult enough to fit 3 times 30 mins of running a week.

  • I understand. We are all busy, but you have to find more time to improve your fitness, which will improve your lifestyle. Just try to find 10 minutes a day; about the amount of time you spent visiting this blog.

    Strength training doesn't necessarily include lifting weights. In my fitness program, all of the exercises I do only rely upon moving my own body weight. Basic exercises like jumping jacks, push-ups, leg squats, sit-ups, leg lunges, leg lifts, pull-ups, etc., all are part of strength training. Or if you want more resistance, you can try using exercise bands.

    You will see significant improvement in how you look and feel in a short time.

  • It CAN be hard to find time for even more exercise. (You mean *running* isn't enough? Sheesh! Yes, I know.)

    The truth is that you will have lots of benefits with just the running, but you will be amazed by the difference just a little bit more makes. Personally, I prefer to get all gross and sweaty only once per necessary workout, so I squish the two together, and that saves me time in cleaning and changing and all that, if I will do a long session.

    For many months before, I did only 8 minutes a day of strength training, first thing in the morning. (Really, with 2 minutes warmup and a short stretch after, it was about 12 minutes.) It was so short I didn't have to wear special clothes (I wore my PJs) and I didn't get sweaty, although my heart rate went up. The trick to super-short workouts like that is to exercise a different set of muscles each day of the week. (Mon - shoulders, Tues -thighs, Wed - abs, etc.) It worked great for many months until I needed a bigger challenge. I could have done it forever and kept my muscles but not gotten stronger after that point. You might consider trying something like that if you feel pressed for time.

  • I think you meant to respond to mrslazy. I get up really early to attend bootcamp at 5:30 a.m., and then do my running afterwards on the appropriate days. So, I do my getting sweaty and funky activities together, too.

  • Sorry, I did mean to respond to mrslazy. My hat goes off to you with your 5:30 workouts though! You deserve your dramatic good health. :)

  • It CAN be hard to find time for even more exercise. (You mean *running* isn't enough? Sheesh! Yes, I know.)

    The truth is that you will have lots of benefits with just the running, but you will be amazed by the difference just a little bit more makes. Personally, I prefer to get all gross and sweaty only once per necessary workout, so I squish the two together, and that saves me time in cleaning and changing and all that, if I will do a long session.

    For many months before, I did only 8 minutes a day of strength training, first thing in the morning. (Really, with 2 minutes warmup and a short stretch after, it was about 12 minutes.) It was so short I didn't have to wear special clothes (I wore my PJs) and I didn't get sweaty, although my heart rate went up. The trick to super-short workouts like that is to exercise a different set of muscles each day of the week. (Mon - shoulders, Tues -thighs, Wed - abs, etc.) It worked great for many months until I needed a bigger challenge. I could have done it forever and kept my muscles but not gotten stronger after that point. You might consider trying something like that if you feel pressed for time.

  • Sounds like a good plan! Roughly how many of each exercise did you do each day, do you think? I've been doing 20 squats and 20 chair dips a day, but would be interested to know what to add to this.

  • I specifically did a series of exercises from a collection of books: "8 Minutes in the Morning" by Jorge Cruise. The first was "Super Easy", then "Hips and Thighs" then "Abs", which I started to mix and match with. The exercises in the books are good (the diet is nothing special, and not my personal choice), and they require minimal equipment. That said, there are lots of good appropriate routines, and Mr. Cruise does not have any kind of special monopoly on short workouts. I will try to write a blog soon with better details of some strength-training strategies and exercises. The "short answer" for you, you can add push-ups (regular and incline), crunches, leg lifts, lunges, bulk-head pushups, chin ups, back hyper-extensions, and even some bicep curls or similar (I use sacks of potatoes or other household goods for weights). Doing 20 of each is perfectly fine, but you may consider fewer reps 8-12 or 12-15, and add weight to make finishing the set challenging. Up to 3 sets with 60 sec or less rest between. (Put the potatoes on your back for pushups). This will increase your strength and muscle mass faster than doing many, many reps.

    Next, decide if you want frequent short workouts, or less frequent long ones. The "split" workout exercises some of your muscles one day, and others on a different day. At a minimum, you should work each muscle group once per week. But, like the running, you should also give yourself a day off in between hard workouts for any given muscle group. A full-body workout 3x wk is lots, 1-2x wk is fine too.

    Good luck, and I hope you read my blog post about it when I write it. :)

  • I do resistance excercises on my legs and upper body. I do three reps of 12 for each muscle group every other day (when I'm not running)

  • That sounds about perfect :)

  • NHS Choices has a new podcast series for C25K users to work on their strength and flexibility in between runs.

    Check out Strength and Flex

    nhs.uk/LiveWell/strength-an...

  • Thank you for updating this post. I will edit the original blog with this info as well, in case readers miss the replies down here. It is an excellent addition to the C25K canon. :)

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