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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!

Run Austin Before Race Day with the RunBetter App

Participants can run Austin before race day on any treadmill

Image of the RunBetter app showing the Austin Half Marathon course. Participants can run Austin before race day with the RunBetter app.The Ascension Seton Austin Marathon’s partnership with the RunBetter app will allow every participant to run the courses virtually from anywhere in the world. Anyone with the app can run Austin before race day on any treadmill. Participants can run the entire course or specific segments. Courses include the Austin Marathon, Austin Half Marathon, or KXAN Simple Health 5K. The KXAN Simple Health 5K will be the first 5K featured on the training app. The 29th annual Austin Marathon, owned and produced by High Five Events, will take place on February 16, 2020.

RunBetter is excited to introduce all three courses to our treadmill training app, especially the KXAN Simple Health 5K, the first 5K to be featured on our app,” said Curt Mann, co-founder of RunBetter. “We love all things Austin Marathon and want every participant to prepare for their distance with our training app.”

Participants will have free access for one week to the courses they’ll complete on February 16th when they download the app. RunBetter enhances your training by providing access to top courses around the world with any treadmill. Next, they choose the course segment they’d like to run and their speed. They set their phone on the treadmill and start running. The RunBetter app will guide them through their specific course. It will alert them to adjust the incline on the treadmill to mimic the course elevation changes along the way.

Prepare for Feb. 16th with the RunBetter app

“Endurance athletes prepare for every detail possible leading up to Austin Marathon weekend: distance, hydration, nutrition, travel arrangements, post-race celebration, etc.,” said Jack Murray, co-owner of High Five Events. “Our partnership with RunBetter allows any participant to take that a step further and train for the course they’ll complete on February 16th.”

The Austin Marathon will celebrate its 29th year running in the capital of Texas in 2020. Austin’s flagship running event annually attracts runners from all 50 states and 30+ countries around the world. Having start and finish locations just a few blocks apart, being within walking distance of many downtown hotels and restaurants, and finishing in front of the picturesque Texas State Capitol makes the Austin Marathon the perfect running weekend destination. Registration is currently open.

Hydration: 5 Things You Should Know and How They’ll Help

You know about hydration, now learn about how it helps your body

Nuun is the Official Hydration partner of the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. They know a thing or two about hydrating athletes. The experts at Nuun are constantly gathering information about how athletes can better fuel their bodies. This blog post was written by the Nuun experts to educate athletes and provide them with the information needed to be successful during training and racing.

Hydration is energy (for your muscles)

Most people think that the purpose of hydration is to prevent dehydration and replenish electrolyte stores that may be lost via sweat. Although both of those are true (recent studies have shown that electrolytes may play greater roles in fluids absorption than sweat replenishment), the fundamental goal of hydration is to deliver oxygen to working muscles. Try to think about hydration or the fluid you are consuming as a way of helping your muscles breathe, which in turn gives them the energy they need to perform.

Editor’s note: proper hydration, along with these 6 tips from this Austin Marathon blog will help you run your best!

Water does not hydrate you

Yes, you read that correctly! While water does fundamentally provide your body with fluid, it does not truly hydrate you. Water needs to be in a specific concentration (composing of carbohydrates and electrolytes) to exit the stomach and move into circulation where it can be used by the body. Our water needs to contain sodium to ensure proper fluid absorption. To make matters even more complicated, your “water” should contain different amounts of carbohydrates and electrolytes before/during/after your workout.

Mitigate gastric distress during exercise

To put it simply, when you are exercising, your body (stomach) is under stress. There are ways you can eat and drink to mitigate that stress or encourage it. When it comes to hydration, if the ratio of carbohydrates to fluid is too high or the electrolyte profile is too low, the delivery of fluid slows down. It sits in the stomach. That’s what causes sloshing and GI issues during racing. 

Help you fuel better

This builds on the previous point. With proper hydration, you can help eliminate the GI issues that can come with it. This allows for faster and more efficient fueling. This is achieved by not overloading your system and using multiple pathways to absorb fluids and carbohydrates.

Aids in recovery

One area that is critical to the recovery process is rehydrating. Rehydrating not only replenishes fluids lost during exercise, but it also aids in replenishing the electrolytes that were also lost. Keep in mind: drinking too much too fast can degrade the potential gains of the workout. Here’s why: over time your body has developed a strong immune system that helps repair itself when it is under the stresses of exercise. Therefore, naturally, your body begins repairing itself, slowly rehydrating, and continuing to hydrate throughout the day.

Editor’s note: recover faster when you follow this long training run recovery timeline from the Austin Marathon!

Nuun Hydration is our Official Hydration partner. Head over to www.nuunlife.com to stock up on your hydration supply and train with what will be on course. Save 25% with the code below!

Follow this Recovery Timeline After Your Long Training Run

Recover from your long training run faster with our advice

Your Ascension Seton Austin Marathon or Half Marathon training plan is certain to include long runs. They’re the core to building the endurance needed to achieve your goals. But just like any other run, you need to recover after your long training run and prepare for what’s next. Our timeline will help expedite the recovery process, from the moment you stop your watch until you lay down for a well-deserved nap. Take our advice, adjust it to your schedule, and make sure you’re ready for whatever is next on your training plan. Having trouble getting up in the morning for your long run? These 6 tips are sure to jump-start your morning!

Rehydrate (within 5 minutes)

nuun display at Austin Marathon expo. nuun is the perfect drink for your long training run.

nuun has the electrolytes you need after your long training run! Credit – Deborah Cannon

You lose fluids during your run when you sweat. This is the price you pay so your body can stay cool during the run. It’s important to drink at least 16 ounces of an electrolyte-enhanced drink (like nuun!) when you’re done. Drinking this will begin the rehydration process and restore needed nutrients Pro tip: prepare a drink that’s specifically for after your run before you begin.

Stretch/foam roll (within 5-15 minutes)

You’re pushing your body further and further, reward it with stretching and foam rolling. Whether you’re increasing your distance or lowering your time, you’re asking a lot of your body. Take care of the muscles that take care of you. Stretching and foam rolling allow fresh blood to flow to the muscles. This speeds up recovery and helps prevent lactic acid from settling in.

Eat a snack (within 15-30 minutes)

Grab some fruit, beef jerky, or your favorite protein bar. Eat something that won’t upset your stomach or dry out your mouth. You need to replace the energy your body consumed during your long training run. Plus, it’ll give you a nice little energy boost. Keep hydrating!

Cool off (within 30-60 minutes)

Barton Springs is a great place to cool off after your long training run.

Cool off in Barton Springs after your long training run.

Take a cold shower or jump in a cold body of water like Barton Springs (stay no more than 15 minutes). The cold water can help your body’s core temperature return to normal and reduce inflammation. 

Eat a meal (within 1-2 hours)

Now it’s time to eat! By now your snack is wearing off and your stomach is beginning to rumble. Your body probably burned thousands of calories. Time to replace them! Grab something to eat, whether it’s a pre-cooked meal, something you prepare, or you go out to a restaurant. Pro tip: check out some of our favorite East Austin restaurants.

Nap (within 2+ hours)

Ahh, the ending to a perfect long run, the nap. You’ve stretched and foam rolled, eaten, hydrated, and showered. It’s time to let your body do some repair work. Find somewhere that’s dark and cool. A 30-60 minute nap is perfect, depending on what you have to do for the rest of the day. It’s not a bad ideat to stretch/foam roll one more time and drink some more electrolytes before your nap. 

Some runner’s recovery timeline might differ. You can adjust this to fit your schedule. But the core of this timeline will assist in your recovery after your long training run. This will help your body get ready for whatever is next on your training schedule!