Run Chicken Run: My Strength Training

Strength Training by stretching

Run Chicken Run: My Strength Training
| published October 11, 2014 |

By Sarah Herrin
Thursday Review contributor

Nothing makes you feel like a little baby like doing some squats. After a few days of 30-60 reps, I could barely even sit down to pee without using that old lady bar for assistance. Talk about using pain as awareness! I could feel every fiber of every muscle: those huge cords that snaked around each other to support my glutes; the two baked potato-sized lumps in my calves; even my back muscles were tender and sore. That’s when I realized something was wrong. I’d done squats before when I’d been in pilates classes and I didn’t remember my back ever hurting from it, so I did some research and discovered that “if you’re back hurts, you’re doing it wrong.” How could I do a squat wrong? I knew how to do them – or so I’d thought. I’d even done three different variations each time just to mix it up a little. But I was hurting way too much and it was obvious that I needed more guidance. I’d love to say that I signed up for a gym, paid a personal trainer tons of money, and came out victorious, but that’s just not my style. As you can tell from my previous posts, I’m more of the do-it-yourself type. Luckily, YouTube has been there for me from the beginning.

A disclaimer about YouTube fitness videos: As you know, anyone with an account can post them and make up whatever fitness rules they want, so do a quick background check and make sure that the instructor that you’re watching is certified and tied to an actual gym. Don’t be afraid to try things out, but listen to your body and use your best judgment.

From the beginning, strength training has been the one thing that I did not want to do. It’s still an on-going battle. I’ve known people who love strength training, but hate running. And some that love running, but hate swimming, so maybe there’s some kind of balance there. Still, I kept reading over and over that strength training is crucial to being a runner. You need your core—and that includes your glutes—to be strong because it’s the number one thing that helps prevent injury and it improves speed at the same time.

Okay, so I admitted to myself that maybe I didn’t know how to do a squat after all. Once I’d accepted that, I decided to go back to the basics and search “best squats for runners.” You can also check out to view short videos from an official source. Know that there are varying levels of intensity out there, but that just means that there are TONS of room for improvement and pretty soon, you’ll realize that the move you thought was so impossibly hard is actually just a baby step into something that will challenge your body even more.

Yoga is my first form of fitness and I’ve been practicing it in classes and on my own for several years, so naturally, I turned to it when I learned I needed some strength training as a runner. Yoga is a very versatile practice that can achieve a variety of things including flexibility, meditation, and of course, strength. Yoga provides a unique and ready-made strength training by using the weight of your body. Yoga is also all about body awareness. Like meditation, it brings you into yourself and you reach a place where you are fully tuned in with your body. In today’s society with all of our pinging notifications and vibrating text messages, it’s a rare thing to be able to shut out the distractions and listen to what your body needs right then, in that moment. The major things I love about yoga are that it feels really great and you can do it anytime, anywhere: at home, in the park, waiting at the bus stop—seriously. None of those “but I don’t have a resistance band” excuses here.

On YouTube, I typed in “yoga for runners” and found a plethora of training plans available. I switch around a lot because I get bored doing the same routine over and over, but it’s good to have a few staple favorites just to get the job done. To drop names, Sadie Nadarini (of Sadie’s Badass Yoga) is my current favorite because the workouts are the perfect balance of easy yet challenging and she’s very uplifting as she teaches so you’re not just suffering through the poses. She’s talking to you and explaining why it’s good and what it’s doing for your body as you do it. I urge you to search for yourself, find a plan that you enjoy, and let me know what you find! Most importantly, remember that pain is your body’s way of communicating with you. Some soreness is natural as your muscles grow and repair themselves, but be aware and do what works for you. This is not meant to be a painful experience.

For me, consistency has been the biggest challenge—and is probably the biggest challenge for all beginning runners. When you have a full schedule already, it’s really difficult to get into that rhythm of “I must run this day” and actually make it happen. In my next post, I’ll elaborate on this and, now that we’ve moved into an apartment with a gym, hopefully have more to report on my strength training progress!

As always, thanks again for joining me on my journey from art nerd to newbie runner. I hope that you’re learning along with me and enjoying it in a way that inspires and informs your own journey. Until next time, leave me a question or comment at and show me some hungry chickens!

Related Thursday Review articles:

Run Chicken Run: My Kit; Sarah Herrin; Thursday Review; October 5, 2014.

Run Chicken Run: My Motivation; Sarah Harrin; Thursday Review; October 1, 2014.