One of my favorite things when it comes to triathlon is definitely strength training. Maybe not stopping to do it 2-4 times a week, but the benefits you get from strength training are undeniable. When I did my first triathlon in 2012, I switched from training in the gym to focusing solely on swim-bike-run. I mean, 3 disciplines take up a lot of time! I continued like that until 2015. That year, I did my first half marathon – the Charleston Half Marathon – and followed up 6 weeks later with the Run Hard Columbia Half Marathon. At the end of June, my husband and I made the trip over to Scotland to see friends and I did the Edinburgh Half Marathon while we were there. My times for those three halfs were:
- Charleston Half Marathon: 2:04 (the lead car took a wrong turn and added 0.25 miles to the course so everyone’s time was adjusted. My adjusted time was 2:01).
- Run Hard Columbia Half Marathon: 1:59
- Edinburgh Half Marathon: 2:01
After our trip to Scotland, I started a strength regime with the help of Elise Matthews at K.O.R.E. Wellness in Columbia, SC. I knew strength training was a good idea, and Elise created 2 8-week programs for me that I could do at home. Fast forward to November and the Lexington Half Marathon, where I ran a 1:51. What a huge improvement from my previous half marathons! I attribute that improvement to strength training alone. Working on core strength and stability meant that every foot strike was driving me forward, instead of my energy going towards holding myself steady.
Two more years of training myself (i.e. not really knowing what I’m doing) and I got a bit lax on the strength training. Then, I started with TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition for the 2018 season. I was excited to see strength training in the schedule, and now I had coaches to hold me accountable for it.
At the end of 2018, TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition partnered with ECFit Boulder and Erin Carson to provide strength training for us through their mobile app. Erin Carson is the strength trainer for some of the biggest stars on the athletic scene – Mirinda Carfrae, Flora Duffy, Tim O’Donnell, and Paula Findlay just to name a few. The app is so helpful with demonstrations of each exercise right there for you to see, and a suggested plan for how to spread the workouts over 10 weeks.
Doing the same exercises over and over can be boring, but I’m never bored with the variety of workouts that Erin provides us through the ECFit Boulder app. I can do almost all of the workouts at home. I purchased the following to make it happen – a set of dumbbells (5, 8, 10 lbs for me right now), a set of resistance bands, a balance board, and elastic bands. My coaches put strength training into my schedule 2 to 4 times a week, depending on the training block and time of year.
What has the ECFit Boulder strength program done for me? I feel so much stronger when I run. There’s no wobble in my knees or hips, and I feel like every step of the run is propelling me forward. I felt very strong at the Run Hard Columbia Half Marathon on March 2, 2019, and I recovered very quickly from it, too. Many of the exercises are working on my upper body as well, which I desperately need. This is helping me have a stronger pull in the water, and I see myself getting faster in the pool. The planks are helping me get stronger in the aero position in the bike, and more time in aero should mean faster times. And strength is so important for injury prevention. I’ve been injury-free for a good few years now, and I want to keep it that way this season and future seasons. Don’t forget about mobility! Every workout starts with foam rolling and hip mobility, which I tend to be lazy with. No need to worry since Erin makes sure we get it done!
If you’re looking for a strength program to supplement your triathlon training, I can’t recommend ECFit Boulder more.