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I've been training for a half-marathon since early January, and I've really enjoyed it. Other than freezing my butt off on a few long runs during some time in Kansas, it's been a very enjoyable train up.
My long runs have provided me time to think, learn (I am a HUGE podcast guy), and reflect on life. See my list of podcasts I like to listen to while working out below...
My tempo runs have gone well, and while I'm not as fast as I once was (slow sigh), I have felt strong and steady on those longer tempo run efforts. And my interval training has also progressed nicely to where I am now running 3 x 1 mile intervals at 6:45 and below pace. That's not lightning speed, but for a #215 athlete, that's respectable.
The biggest change that I made during this train-up versus a previous train up for a half-marathon - is that I added back squats back into my strength training plan. I am extremely glad that I did.
When I built my training plan for this half-marathon, I recalled my days training for the 2011 Best Ranger Competition and how much strength training we did to prepare for what is ultimately an endurance event over 3 days. The strength training we did provided us with an incredible base as we progressed through our training and into the competition. We never broke down. We had strong legs, strong cores, and strong backs and it showed during the competition.
I haven't lifted "heavy" in a couple of years. I took time away from the barbell because I was getting beat up and felt too bulky. I needed to lean out and gain some balance in my training so that I could continue to serve at a high level for many years to come. I've already done that. Now it was time to layer some barbell training back into my training plan.
Enter back squats in my current training plan. I do back squats 1x per week. 5 sets of 3 reps (with a few light warm-up sets). I don't even go that heavy (certainly in comparison to what I used to do). But the results have been superb. I have not "bonked" on a single long training run, and more over, I often finish my runs feeling like I have much more in the tank (including my 14 miler last Saturday).
While my training plan has been very solid overall, I attribute the strength and resiliency in my legs to the back squats I added to my training plan 9 weeks ago.
As you ramp up for your marathon, half-marathon, Ironman or half-Ironman, don't abandon your strength training. Keeping your legs and core strong throughout your training will help carry the day when it gets difficult on the race course or during critical training events.
Train hard. Train smart.
The Learning Leader - Great podcast hosted by Ryan Hawk. Anyone in a leadership/managerial role will benefit from listening to this podcast.
Colin Cowherd's (Best of the Herd) - Great overview of the main sports topics from Colin's point of view. I have been listening to Colin for 12 years.
The Ringer NFL Show - Great insight/analysis on the current/future state of the NFL.
RotoWorld Football Podcast - Deep analysis on the NFL, NFL Draft, NFL Free agency, salary cap, etc. Nerd out level stuff.
Jocko - Hosted by Jocko Willinick, retired Navy SEAL - Silver Star recipient. These are super long form podcasts and I usually can't listen to the entire thing, but Jocko is an inspirational guy.
The Stinkin Truth - Hosted by Mark Schlereth, former NFL offensive lineman for 12 years and game analyst for FOX Sports. Mark is hilarious and insightful. Fun/short podcast.
Mad Money - Hosted by Jim Cramer. I used to watch Cramer every night, but now I listen to his podcast daily. Jim's insight/analysis on the stock market and our economy are incredible.
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