Up until yesterday I was feeling very good about my state of conditioning. I was chatting with a work colleague who I hadn’t seen for a few weeks and he asked me if I’d lost weight. I didn’t know how to respond to that question. Yes, I did lose weight when I restarted running back in 2008. Forty pounds in fact, all due to lower calorie consumption and more activity. More recently, after battling severe pneumonia, I lost another five pounds. My recovery is now complete and my weight is back to mid-December levels so I was puzzled by his question. The next thing he said floored me, “You look kind of…weak.” Weak? I really didn’t know how to respond to that. Then I thought about it and realized that it’s probably true. While my running gives me stamina, I’m not doing all that much to build strength. A year ago I was mixing up my workouts and including core exercises and some upper body conditioning. In the time that I’ve returned to daily exercise I’ve been focused solely on running. Even my elliptical sessions have been more about speed than effort. I decided that it’s time to stop ignoring my core and upper body.
Although my wife and I have accumulated a closet full of hand weights I’m loathe to use them. I find weight lifting to be mind numbingly boring. I’ve been thinking about getting one of those stretch band systems that attach to a doornob and provide a variety of ways to exercise muscle groups. It’s low tech but it works, as do sit-ups and push ups. This morning I chose the elliptical but cranked up the resistance as high as I could handle. It felt good and it was good preparation for my trail race. The benefits that come from moving the unit’s upper poles is questionable but it’s better than doing nothing. I’m going to put some more attention to strength building and I’m hoping to gain about five pounds through upper body muscle development. I suspect that strengthening my core will also lead to better running performance.