Strength is My Weakness
Awkward semantics, but it reflects the reality of my fitness. I used to train like a demon in the gym throughout the fall months prepping for ski season. Then endurance sports became my focus, so I backed off. When I discovered Maffetone and the Big Book, I stuck to strict aerobic training. Maffetone’s views on strength training are a little opaque. When reading the Big Book, it seemed like all forms of strength training are strongly discouraged as being anaerobic, and therefore counter productive to a big aerobic engine. Subsequent articles and interviews show that is not exactly the case, but I still shied away. Now I can really feel that strength is a real limiter. So rather than keeping on that well worn path, and focus only on aerobic base building, this winter I will switch back to a more traditional endurance schedule, which is to build as much strength as possible before the warm months and necessary long endurance efforts. I will continue MAF style aerobic training and frequent MAF testing to see what effect strength training has on running and cycling. Positive? Negative? Neutral?
Why no strength training? If I understand Maffetone correctly in the Big Book, any strength training primarily affects the faster twitch, anaerobic muscle fibers, not the slow twitch aerobic fibers. Since it’s those slow twitch fibers that carry the day in any endurance event, it does not make sense to train the fibers that don’t propel you to the finish. Maffetone also means aerobic training to mean all aspects of aerobic metabolism, not just the heart and muscles. So, to make that aerobic engine stronger, one must train aerobically. Makes sense, except that there is research to suggest that strength training improves muscle function and economy of movement, which makes you faster. And some fast twitch fibers can be sent to reeducation camp to function aerobically. In off-road racing, the trail determines in large part your effort, and strength is frequently needed to overcome obstacles, especially mountain biking, but also when running. In contrast, road racing is a much more evenly paced affair. My hope is that improving my strength will allow me to actually keep my aerobic pace more even by not having to work as hard to clear obstacles and terrain changes. If I don’t slow down as much for these short efforts, I should not have to expend as much effort getting back up to speed and therefore keep a more even tempo.
My years away from the gym have left me weak. We should work to strengthen our weaknesses, right?
Strength is my weakness, so I’m working on it right now.
since I’ve been eschewing the gym, and my aerobic engine maintains itself, and recent injuries could stem from unbalanced strength. They say to take the winter season to bring up weak points. I am weak, literally, so I will spend the time and energy to increase strength, while maintaining my aerobic engine.