Operation strength

Unrelated note: Read Lauren Fleshman’s post from yesterday on Keeping it Real. Love this honest piece about body image.

Now back to the post…

I had a couple goals after a summer of endurance with two Ironmans: enjoy activity and try new things. I’ve tried a few different fitness classes and my husband and I are going strong with Toughen Up Tuesdays.

I’ve switched it up even more in the last few weeks.

I’m nearing the halfway point of a six-week program to work on my weaknesses. It includes a lot of strength and …what’s it called again? Oh yeah, anaerobic conditioning, which is something so foreign to me.

I rarely train anaerobic. Sad but true. I haven’t touched a track since my track days over a decade ago and I like running and biking for enjoyment, which is almost always at a conversational pace. (Minus some hills I did when training for IM Canada this summer.)

This program has really thrown my body for a loop. And I love it. A strength and conditioning coach created the program for me, so it’s well-balanced and expertly planned.

I have four anaerobic workouts a week. They range in length from 10 minutes to 45 minutes with the work, or hard, time always changing. They’re made for both the bike and the treadmill. Regardless of how long the workout is or whether I run or ride, I am drenched in sweat by the end.


Nearing the halfway mark I feel like I can go faster and for longer periods than before.

During anaerobic training, the muscle cells improve the energy pathway resulting in the production of less lactic acid at the same intensity so we can exercise harder for longer. Cells also become more efficient at working with lactic acid. That is why it is important to do a variety of workouts when training for something, including endurance events.

I also have four strength workouts a week, focusing on my weak hamstrings, hips, knees and shoulders. I hope these help prevent my recurring knee issues from arising and keep my stubborn left scapula in place.

I am also keeping one long run in a week. I still have a little over three weeks left. It hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination.


But it’s fun, and overall it’s going to make me a lot stronger.

Do you follow a strength program? Do you work both your aerobic and anaerobic systems, or do you always train at the same pace?

41 responses to “Operation strength

  1. I know I should do more anaerobic stuff (planks and basic core work does not count), but I don’t really. Good for you for doing it and keeping it up! Would love to hear how you feel after it is all done 🙂

    • I was never able to make myself do it, so I’m really surprised with how much I’m enjoying it! What if on really snowy, cold days you tried some speed on the treadmill to add it in there?

  2. WooHoo – glad that you are seeing results already!!
    Yes – I do both aerobic and anaerobic training and I love strength training!!!

  3. Runner Girl Eats

    I always train at the same pace but really want to get in the habit of switching it up since I know its for the best.

  4. Thanks for that link. That’s so cool and brave.
    Your training sounds tough. Anaerobic exercise is basically what CrossFit is all about, so I’ve been doing TONS of it. Just can’t wait to see how it’ll have changed my running when I can finally and properly get back to it!!! I’m sure you’ll smash whatever goals you have set for yourself, no doubt about it, my rockstar friend!!!

  5. Way to go, Abby! I’ve been trying to add some speed work to my running, but I often quit early when I do so (but often it’s because speed work exacerbates my injuries…). I strength train 4 days per week.

  6. Sounds like a great program! I was doing more strength work but have to scale it back now that IM training is back in full swing.

  7. Wow, Abby! You are such a beautiful runner, even on the dreadmill! I have really loved my marathon training plan because the speed workouts and tough tempo runs force me to run at a faster pace and higher intensity. And I’ve seen huge results! I can’t wait to get back into strength training after the race. I need to work on the same areas as you. Did you know I had surgery on my right scapula years ago? Snapping scapula. Those pesky shoulders!

    • Ha- I’ve never had someone tell me that. Thank you, Nicole!
      I am still deciding what to do next year, but if it’s a marathon, I am 100% going to try that plan. It sounds awesome but manageable time-wise.
      Snapping scapula sounds awful. Has it been better since surgery? Does it bug you at all when you swim?

  8. Way to go! I do try to mix up my paces on training runs, but I haven’t been to the track since the summer. I do lift weights a couple times a week and go to yoga whenever I can!

  9. This is awesome! I definitely do a variety. Currently I do 4 runs a week: 1 speed, 1 tempo, 1 long, and 1 trail (I’m starting to work that in to my routine because my marathon is on a trail and I want to familiarize myself with the turf). Then I take 2 hot yoga classes and many evenings I practice yoga at home too after my daughter goes to bed. Almost all my strength training is done with my own body weight unless I incorporate light hand weights.

  10. I never thought I would say this… but I’ve loved getting back in the weight room! Just finished my first ultra (50-miler) to cap off my season and now I’m back in the base/strength training and it’s been fun. Circuit training is the key to keep the cardio. As a college student, I try to stay away from the huge body builders with their ripped shirts and plethora of protein shakes.

  11. Your program sounds awesome! I was just noticing last night that I have really lost a lot of speed in running (more noticeable on the treadmill). I need to make some changes and try workouts like yours!

    • It is definitely more noticeable on the treadmill when your pace is right in front of you and you can hear your breathing a lot clearer. You should do some of your treadmill workouts you posted a while ago; those looked awesome!

  12. I need to follow Lauren’s blog. I hear great things about it! So glad that your program is going well. I am struggling with anaerbic work too!

  13. I have the best idea – you and Kelly move to Vancouver and then you can train ME! The program sounds awesome and I like how it keeps you guessing. I just do the same old thing all the time (when it comes to running) – not that I’m complaining but it would be nice to have a schedule that says “do this today, and this tomorrow” – Thanks for all the amazing info.. I swear I learn more about running from your blog than anywhere else!

    • That is the kindest comment, Britta. Thank you!
      If I lived in Vancouver, I’m pretty sure all my runs would be the same- around the seawall!
      It is nice to have a schedule that is different each day, and since someone else made it for me I don’t want to skip any workouts!
      How are you enjoying Vancouver and all the changes so far?

  14. If these treadmill pics are what you looked like when you met Kelly at the gym, then I am NOT surprised he fell in love! You look radiant and SO fit! Lately I have been definitely working on both aerobic and anaerobic workouts, and have tried pushing to my max more than normal.

  15. Nice work, lady! Strength used to be my go-to (I was a crazy CrossFitter for a looong time), but after I found triathlon, that fell by the wayside. I started back up with some functional strength training a couple weeks ago and already feel better. We’re gonna be even stronger come next season! 🙂

    Also, Lauren’s blog post was AWESOME! Best thing I’ve read in a long time!

  16. I feel like the dance fitness classes that I take really push me out of my comfort zone. I am so sore after those classes, unlike after my runs. These classes help me remember that working out can be fun too!!

  17. Stephanie@nowiun.com

    One of my goals for 2014 is to train for a race using sprint workouts (in one form or another) and/or hills, and/or strength training. I’ve heard nothing but good things about what speed work can do for performance.

  18. Pingback: Training lately… | Change of Pace

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