Strength Training Update: Assisted Training

After I went to UVA earlier this year, I told you that we had now moved into the next phase of my strength training with Drew; the assisted phase.

I was a little apprehensive for this stage, especially as it involved lots of exercises that if done incorrectly, could very quickly result in an injury.

The part with Drew I felt safe. I knew he would make sure my form was correct, stop me and take me back a step if needed, and get what we needed out of it.

The part by myself was a little more worrying, and I had to be very careful with it.

Let’s start with that part.

One part of the assisted training was to do downhill strides a few days a week after my run. This meant finding a hill with a gradual decline, and doing my strides down them after a recovery run. This allowed me to get my legs moving faster than they would otherwise, and build that power.

So I did.

And booooyyyy was it fun!

Downhill stride

I loved that feeling of being a runner that was a minute faster than I actually am. I would guess I was probably running about 4:30 per mile pace on those downhills, which felt fun.


Running technique on downhill strides is VERY important!

Downhills are really easy to overstride, and if you do that, you are sending a very strong impact and force up your legs, which can quickly result in injury, especially if you overstride anyway or have any kind of weakness in your body.

Steve caught me a few times using bad form, and reminded me I HAD to focus on it.

This article by Runners Connect explains downhill (and uphill) running (and this one) better than I can, so take a read.

I am not sure if I can (or should) encourage you to do these downhill strides. I was only told to start doing them after two solid years of working on my strength with Drew, and Max at the UVA speed clinic said it was time.

But you could give them a try, maybe once a week to start on a very gradual decline, and just make sure you read the advice in the Runners Connect article about how to run downhill properly.

Just PLEASE be careful!!

The other part of my assisted training is in the weight room, and I have to say, I have been enjoying this phase more than any other. It is fun to complete, and I can feel it working.

After 10 days rest from strength training following Falmouth, I got back to my work with Drew last week, and I could see a serious difference in these exercises, I was very rusty, and it required more thought and concentration to before.

So what does my strength training involve now?

Before I explain that, make sure you go back and listen to my podcast with Drew. This will really help explain all of this, and what I am saying below will make a lot more sense.

First, we ALWAYS begin with a warm up.

Same as before, which is VERY important, especially the mobility stage. If you are going to start strength training, you MUST add this in there before you begin, especially if you are doing it at a different time to when you run.

Tina strength warm up

There are usually two stages to my warm up:

Foam rolling/pvc pipe rolling. This includes shoulders and back if there are any tight spots….and if you are anything like me, you will have a lot of those, even though you think you are a runner, therefore your shoulders and back don’t  need it.

I thought that too, but I was so wrong.

Oh, and those parts HUUUURRRRTTTT much worse than the legs….trust me on that one.

Anyway, I digress.

Step 2 is to do the mobility exercises, which Drew explains here

Once these are complete, we can start the workout.

What is an example of an assisted workout:

Well, we complete 5 sets of 4 exercises, with about 20 seconds between each exercise, and 2 minutes between sets. The focus is on the final exercise, which the other exercises are prepping for- weighing you down, so when you remove the heavy, you can hopefully SPRING off the ground, to build that power.

Partial Range of Motion (ROM) Step up (4 reps per side)

On this day, I used 195lbs, although we will work up to well over 200lbs.

Loaded Eccentric with Split Squat Landing (5 reps per side)

Slower Eccentric, Fast Concentric Split Squat (slow down, fast up) with Kettlebells (5 reps per side)

Starting with 26lb in each hand, working up to 40lb in each hand. This has a focus on speed strength.

Assisted Split Squat (8 reps per side)

Using the straps to spring up higher, focusing on “pop” off the ground.

Drew’s thoughts on this:

The objective here is to spend as little time on the ground as possible by reducing bodyweight via the straps. (To do this, you have ) Got to keep the rear ankle rigid.

Now, remember, that I mentioned earlier, my form is NOT perfect in these, I am a little rusty, but that is why it is so important to have a coach to make you work on those imperfections after each set.

We follow that up with 3 sets of other exercises that I am more used to.

For example, RDL, a variation of push up planks, and side to side hop.

I am not going to explain those ones today, but you can learn more about other exercises we do here.

Now, this is important.

PLEASE do not just copy this workout and do it yourself. It is SOOOOOO important that you work with a trainer who knows what they are doing, and can tell you if you are ready for this kind of a workout.

As I mentioned earlier, it has been two years of working with Drew for me to get up to this point, and my form is far from perfect in these videos, but I have a strength coach there watching me, telling me after each set what to focus on next time.

He makes sure I am not putting myself at risk of injury, and it is so important to have someone there for you to do the same.

If you cannot have that person, it could be okay, only if your body is ready for this.

But the chances are, you may have to work on the steps prior to this first, to make sure your body is ready to handle it.

I know that seems like a lecture, and I hope you do not mind me being a bit forceful with that, but I know how much it sucks to be injured, and I just hate the idea of anyone becoming injured because of copying me.

If you still don’t believe me, go back and listen to this episode of the podcast with Drew and I.

I just wanted to share a little glimpse into what I am doing now, as many of you have asked me.

Strength training is a HUGE part of the reason I have stayed healthy, and I would encourage each and every runner to add it into your training…..or if you are not a runner, it is just as important, and will leave you feeling better in your day-to-day life too.

What are you working on in your strength training?

[bctt tweet=”Assisted strength training sounds fun! Downhill strides and jumping high!” username=”tinamuir”]


OH! And PLEASE listen and share this podcast episode I released today with Todd Williams. It is about safety while running. He explains how to make sure you never put yourself in a position where you are at risk of being attacked, and how to get yourself out of it if you do find yourself there.

PLEASE share it, probably my most important podcast yet!

cross training, strength training

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  • carla birnberg
    September 7, 2016 5:46 am

    (((clicks away to listen to the podcast with drew. HOW HAD I MISSED THAT ONE??)))

  • I’m always terrified to run downhill because I feel like I overstride and then get injured more easily. Thanks for sharing this, it makes sense and it could always be something to work on.

  • These are basically all of the exercises I did with my PT when I was coming back from a hamstring strain. I guess that means I was doing something right haha I get so nervous running downhill- it’s definitely a weakness of mine and something I should practice.

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