Benefits of weight training


By Dana Stetson


For quite a while I have suspected that it was happening. The indicators were all there. But, it wasn’t until Sarah Docter-Williams (who incidentally is the second nicest person in the western hemisphere) rudely pointed it out that I was forced to accept it.

It all started out innocently enough, with a swim workout after a full day of serious running. I was pretty tired. When the workout was over I attempted to lift myself out of the pool only to fail and fall back into the water. I then switched to my patented “pop and flop” method of pool exitry. This always works, but it does result in an action very similar to a freshly caught fish.

Sarah, after witnessing this, told me that I looked like I was a seventy year old. Now personally I’ve always assumed I more closely resembled a spry sixty-five year old. But, the point is, running, biking and swimming are not enough by themselves to prevent upper body muscle loss.

So, what’s a runner to do? I found myself a weight expert and began that day to work on my back, arms, and chest. It was amazing to me how weak these areas had become. This weakness is bad for your running.

Although, as Gary Droze says you don’t run with your biceps, you still need a strong upper body to help you maintain your form. It’s this upper body strength that assists you late in the race to avoid the classic “cooked shrimp” curl that is so apparent in some runners.

My new weight program uses both free weights and weight machines. Because I am a novice weight lifter my coach really stressed the basics. Good posture and slow, smooth full motions are very important when lifting. Stick to amounts of weights that you can honestly handle. In my case this was sometimes the minimum available.

As in any new venture, weight lifting with all this new equipment and its related strategies appeared at first to be complex and rather confusing. But, day by day, it seems more understandable and soon I hope to understand the big picture. Although I still can’t see the day arriving when I will be cut, buff or chiseled; I believe with some hard work and expert advice I can look forward to being able to catapult out of the water in a manner even Sarah can be proud of.