Are You Strong Enough To Be A Marathoner?

Think Sheryl Crow, accordion in hand, standing on a VH1 stage. Or at least that is what came to mind when I titled this blog.

Yesterday was a rest day, actually I switched my Monday rest day with Tuesday’s miles in order to juggle class and training. I had my Tax Law course last night and knew that being in class until 8 PM wouldn’t allow for enough time to run afterward, so I made the decision to adjust my days a little bit. In years past I would just take an extra rest day or shorten the miles in order to at least get miles in. But either option would short change my training, and with a limited window to meet my goal I decided to just switch things around a bit.

Despite not running, the marathon was still in the forefront of my brain. At a few less than interesting moments during the lecture, I couldn’t help but daydream about running. I was thinking about how smoothly training is going. I was wondering why all of a sudden I seem to have hit my stride (no pun intended) when it comes to my pace and overall comfort with running.

My questions, or pondering, were answered when I came across a The Run Experience YouTube video. The short video helped me realize that the interconnectedness [push-up/fitness test training and my marathon training had resulted in my improvement. While the video is directed predominately towards the first time marathon runner, the lesson is relevant to any runner.

Nate and Carl discussed the correlation between basic movement patterns and their indicators of strength and ability. It is true that you really can’t put an objective number on determining your readiness for a marathon, especially in training. However, utilizing a “test” of sorts based on a couple different basic body movements gives you a litmus test of your readiness. One of the basic movements they discussed was the push up. While the discussed the push-up I realized that I had discovered one of the keys to my recent success.

In September 2015 my push-ups just started to come together. I had been struggling for almost five years to get the mechanics right only to struggle getting down low enough in the push-up to meet the requirements of the law enforcement fitness test. I was told, and used as an excuse, that woman weren’t meant to do an unmodified push up. That it was an unfair test. However I wanted to pass that test…I wanted to successfully complete a minimum of 18 push-ups to demonstrate my equality with other (i.e. male) candidates.

This one particular day, I got down in the push up position and it just clicked. All the muscles seemed to work together and suddenly I was completing 5 unmodified push-ups to required depth. I have been improving every single day ever since.

The video mentions that ten is a solid and attainable number, in other words if you can complete ten push ups you are ready. I don’t feel, and I don’t think their premise, that if you can’t do ten push ups you can’t run a marathon. But from personal experience, I would say that there is a direct correlation about your ability and ease of completing a marathon compared to the total number of unmodified push-ups you can complete.

I can comfortably do 22 unmodified push-ups, 25 if I pause and catch my breath at the top. I think this ability has had a direct impact on my ability to run longer distances and at quicker average paces.

Successful push-ups have meant that it is easier to keep my body in an upright posture, allowing me to breath easier. Also I can maintain proper form through my hips and back. Lastly, it has helped with my breathing in making sure that I don’t hold my breath through the hard stuff or hyperventilate trying to get through it, two things that I often do in times of physical exertion.

There is also a mental boost as a result of the success, I worked hard for five years. Trying everything new process, asking for helping and researching strength techniques-everything I could think of to successfully complete push-ups. And I did it. I pushed through the self doubt and doubt from others.

I personally feel that Nate and Carl provide some great techniques and information about the correlation between the basic body strength exercises and your ability and success as a marathoner. I have linked the video below so you can watch it.

(As an aside, I’m personally not a huge fan of Nate’s see-saw forward motion on his push up but the overall form is good)

Happy Running! (And video watching)


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