Have you been running for over a year and reached the point where your race times have plateaued? Are you frustrated with not being able to break through a personal best and not sure what to do about it? Well, open any running magazine and you will find an article advising you to add resistance training to your weekly schedule to improve your running. Typically, there may be photos of half a dozen exercises and bullet point instructions on how to perform them. Whilst this advice is usually perfectly valid (resistance training will definitely improve your running), it may not be straightforward to complete in practice.
If you are new to resistance exercise, it takes quite a lot of mental effort to organise. First of all, where to complete it? Working out at home can be far from ideal, with lots of distractions and often not enough room. Gyms are not everyone's cup of tea, and an expensive option if you don't plan to use them more than once a week. Secondly, as you may not be familiar with the exercises themselves, you may find yourself struggling to refer to written instructions whilst performing the exercises. Looking in a mirror can help to see if your form is correct, but even then you may not be confident that you are performing them correctly. This can be of particular concern for an exercise such as a lunge, which has a relatively high risk of injury if performed with bad technique.
Even if you persevere with these obstacles, traditional resistance sessions with multiple sets take around an hour to complete, which can be an issue to many with increasingly busy lives. Moreover, many women are social creatures and may not be attracted to the idea of working out on their own, finding it harder to stay motivated to complete the session. However, many people don't realise that resistance training does not necessarily mean just training with weights. In fact, runners can get the huge benefits of weight training without using any equipment at all.
The group fitness class Metafit is the hassle free alternative to traditional resistance training for running. It uses exclusively bodyweight exercises and takes only 30 mins, with the added bonuses of expert instruction to ensure your technique is correct and a whole room full of like-minded women to support and motivate you. The emphasis is on lower body and core exercises that will improve your muscular endurance (and tone your legs, bum and tum in the process). This helps you maintain good running form for longer, enabling you to run further and more efficiently, whilst also reducing the risk of injury.
The Metafit format includes a 5 minutes warm-up to get the blood flowing and loosen the joints, followed by the main workout section which is typically around 22 mins. This is followed by a series of stretching exercises to improve your flexibility. As a form of high intensity interval training, Metafit offers the same benefits of anaerobic training that you get from tempo and fartlek runs. Your lung capacity will increase as will your "lactic tolerance", a measure of how much exercise you can complete before your legs feel very heavy and you struggle to continue. So if you struggle to motivate yourself to do fartlek or tempo runs every week, Metafit classes are a great alternative.
After a couple of months, you'll feel fitter than ever and it could well be the key to unlocking that PB! JB Personal Training run Metafit classes on Tuesday evenings at 6:15pm and Friday mornings at 7am in Lydiard Millicent near Swindon. For full details and online booking, visit our group class listings page.
P.S. If you aren't able to make a group class, but still love the idea of using bodyweight exercises to improve your running, then as an alternative I would highly recommend You Are Your Own Gym: The bible of bodyweight exercises which explains all the key bodyweight exercises with variations for different fitness levels.