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How to Gain Strength and Why It Helps You

Endurance circuits that’ll help runners gain strength

As runners we always want to see improvement. Especially if we started training for the first time! We want to crush our goals. We want to run further and faster. Gaining strength when training for a marathon or half marathon isn’t easy. In order to run longer distances, you must properly prepare your body to run longer distances. Runners need to gain strength, not build muscle mass. That’s why an endurance circuit is beneficial. We break down how it’ll help you gain strength and explain “the why.” Follow the two workouts below to gain strength during your Austin Marathon training! BONUS: gym and weights aren’t needed.

Gain strength and take your fitness to the next level

Image of runner jumping while crossing the 2020 Austin Half Marathon finish line. She's in mid-air making the Longhorn sign with both hands. Read this blog and learn how to gain strength so you can cross the finish line like this!Combine anaerobic and aerobic during your next workout and take your fitness to the next level. This type of workout is different from strength circuit training and requires less time. Strength circuit training is completing a number of different exercises one after the other in quick succession. These types of workouts are good for general health and muscle strength. However, most distance runners aren’t looking to gain muscle mass. They want to gain strength, make running longer distances easier, and improve race performance. 

You can accomplish this by splitting the number of exercises in a normal strength circuit into sets. Try two sets of four (eight total) or two sets of five (10 total) movements. At the start, middle, and end of each set, run at a pace that will get your heart rate to your desired performance (BPM – beats per minute). Use the pace of your shortest distance race (ex. marathoners – run your goal 10K pace, 5Kers run your goal mile pace). Start at a distance that will get your heart rate to the desired BPM and progress from there.  

Intro Endurance Circuit Workout

Warmup: 800m + stretch

200-400m at goal pace for shortest race (70-80% – max BPM)

  • 5 – burpees 
  • 10 – backward lunges (each leg)
  • 5 – pushups
  • 10 – sit-ups 
  • 1-minute plank
  • 30-second break

200-400m at goal pace for shortest race (70-80% – max BPM)

  • 10 – tricep dips “bench dips”
  • 15 – calf raises
  • 10 – squats
  • 10 – bicycle crunch
  • 1-minute plank
  • 30-second break

200-400m at goal pace for shortest race (70-80% – max BPM)

Once you’re comfortable with this workout, increase the distance and number of reps for each movement.  As you progress, you can add second and third sets using the last run in the previous set as the first run of the next set. Mixing up the circuit movements can help you gain strength and improve overall fitness and endurance. Add dumbbell or kettlebell movements to the circuits as needed for an additional challenge.

Advanced Endurance Circuit Workout

Warmup: 800m + stretch

800m at goal pace for shortest race (75-85% – max BPM)

  • 8 – burpees 
  • 10 – backward lunges (each leg)
  • 10 – pushups
  • 20 – sit-ups 
  • 1-minute plank
  • 30-second break

800m at goal pace for shortest race (75-85% – max BPM)

  • 25 – calf raises
  • 15 – tricep dips “bench dips”
  • 15 – squats
  • 20 – bicycle crunch
  • 1-minute plank
  • 30-second break

800m at goal pace for shortest race (75-85% – max BPM)

Preparing your body for marathon or half marathon training is imperative. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. These endurance circuits will help you gain strength over time. Just like your training plan will increase your mileage over time! Are there other ways you’ve learned to gain strength during your training? Let us know in the Austin Marathon Facebook Group or Twitter!

The Best of all the Amazing On-Course Murals

Your Insider Advice on Austin’s Top Running Trails

Take your next run on one of Austin’s top running trails

Every Saturday morning, Austin runners take off on their run. Distances range from short to ultra.  They run solo, with friends, or with their group or club. Runs are completed in just about every condition imaginable. Trail Roots does the same, except they can be found on Austin’s trails. Erik Stanley created Trail Roots in 2014. The former collegiate standout and professional runner wanted to provide support and training for Austin’s growing trail running community. Throughout the years, Trail Roots has covered just about every Austin trail. So when we wanted to know Austin’s top running trails we went to the experts. Trail Roots lays out Austin’s top running trails and what makes them so good for trail running.

Pro tip – trail running provides the perfect opportunity to log training miles and beat the summer heat!

Austin top running trails as voted on by Trail Roots

1) Barton Creek Greenbelt

Image of runners running one of Austin's top running trails. Credit to Trail Roots.

Credit – Trail Roots

The Greenbelt offers the most miles out of all of our local trails. This is surprising because it’s the most central of all the trails. Runners can access the trail in downtown Austin. What our runners also liked about this trail is its accessibility and diverse terrain. You can run the main trail, which is fairly flat, for 7 miles. You could run the west (or backside) of the Greenbelt trails to get in more climbing and add an additional 20 miles! With more than eight well-known access points and trailheads, you can stage water or focus your running on specific trail portions with no problem. 

2) Lakeway / Canyonlands

This West Austin trail is a favorite for its diverse terrain and the number of trails offered. It offers a terrain similar to many of Trail Roots’ Hill Country trail races. While it’s a decent 30+ minute drive from downtown Austin, it is definitely worth it. Also, this trail has some great scenic overlooks and lots of hill climbing. While new neighborhood construction is, unfortunately, slowing eating away at the current trail system, there are still 15-20 miles of trails (when connecting Lakeway, Canyonlands, and Bee Cave Preserve trails). While not at the trailhead, there are about two restroom stalls roughly a half-mile onto the trail.

3) Forest Ridge Preserve

Forest Ridge Preserve is an Austin favorite because of its central location. It also connects to multiple trail systems like St. Edwards Trail and Bull Creek Trail. This offers runners more than 15 miles of trail. Bull Creek also flows most of the year offering a nice place to dip in, cool off,  and take a break from trail running. With plenty of elevation and climbing on these trails, you will get your heart rate up in no time.

Looking for a trail closer to you? Trail Roots has you covered with this helpful map! The one downside of Austin’s top running trails (and just about all of Austin’s trails) is that there aren’t any maps or many markings on the trail to help you find your way. This is a great reason to run with Trail Roots. They can help you navigate and learn these trails! Their goal is to get you comfortable on the trail so you can hop on any Austin trail and feel comfortable. Learn more about Trail Roots and contact their coaches today.

Run the Tangent: Fastest Way to the Austin Marathon Finish Line

Complete the shortest distance possible when you run the tangent

You’re at the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon and Austin Half Marathon start line. The start line gong is struck. You cross the start line and begin chasing your goals. But what’s the quickest way to one of those goals: the finish line? Run the shortest distance possible aka run the tangent! You won’t run any further than you have to when you run the tangent. Learn what it means to run the tangent and utilize our tips. BONUS: run the tangent and you’ll get to the 3-block-long finish line festival that much faster!

What is tangent? Oxford Dictionary defines tangent as “a straight line or plane that touches a curve or curved surface at a point.” Most road courses are created with turns and curves along the way in order to get to the proper distance. When we are running, our natural tendency is to follow the natural curve of the road. There is a shorter way: run the tangent!

The shortest distance between two points

The Austin Marathon and Austin Half Marathon courses are USATF-certified. That means the Austin Marathon is exactly 26.2 miles. The Austin Half Marathon is exactly 13.1 miles. When the course is certified by the USA Track & Field, the course measurers are instructed to measure the shortest course possible. What does this mean? The measurer will measure the course using the straightest line possible. That person will run the tangent. As the saying goes, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The diagram below from the USATF Course Measure Manual illustrates this point.

Infographic informing runners how to run the tangent during the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon and what it means.

So it would make sense that we should run the same course that the course measurer measured. On your next training run, try to run the tangent by looking ahead to the next curve. Visualize the straightest possible path by following the inside of the curve. If you want to add distance to your run, do the opposite, follow the outside of the curve.

Race day tips

  • Study the course map and become familiar with the turns and curves on the course
  • Look ahead to the next turn or curve, run the straightest path to the inside of the turn or curve
  • Have fun! 

Fun thing to try: after your next track workout, count the number of steps it takes you to walk one lap of the track at the inside, middle, outside lanes. Which route is the shortest?