Triathletes and runners who are new to Ironman or ultra running and plan to do it successfully and for many years should consider general strength training including some abdominal and back exercises to strengthen those muscle groups.
Triathletes and runners develop sore abs and back muscles after an Ironman or ultra run. Our back muscles get tired and sore from swimming, hours on the bike and hours of pounding.
You might get away with it in a sprint triathlon or 10k race but anything longer then a ½ marathon and a strong core with a light and good
running form becomes important.
I, as well, made my fair share of bad experiences, and DNF’ed IM because of extreme lower back soreness and a very tight glut muscle which made it even impossible to walk upright. Don’t let this happen to you and prepare yourself better. Begin to invest some time into developing a stronger upper & lower body. Now during post-season (base) is the best time to iron out weak areas and build strength. Strength training should be continued throughout the season in my opinion. Too many athletes stop and loss strength qualities which they have worked so hard to gain in the first place. Strength hasn’t got much of a residual affect and hence declines rapidly after 4 weeks if not specifically trained at least once or twice every 10-14 days.
As an athlete you are only as strong as your weakest link! All endurance activities can benefit from strength training.
For example, strong hips are vital because their anatomical and biomechanical position acts as a bridge between your upper and lower body, which ultimately affects the integration of your whole body’s movement. Their stability and strength provide the path for mechanical energy flow through your body and during the support and flight time (stride).
Strong hips provide the foundation for loads on the legs and reducing lower back impact. Remember that when we run we use our upper body (arms, shoulders, abs, lower back) than just our legs. When the upper body is weak –incl. hips – the energy transfer is not as efficient and when that happens running economy (RE) declines.
Have you ever watched an Ironman? Then perhaps you have noticed the arm swing, arm frequency and arm position of athletes during or near the end of the marathon? Well, usually what you can see are arms much closer to the running pans than they should be and a very weak arm swing. How quickly legs turn over depends also on how quickly your arms moving (high frequency, shorter swing).
But frankly, the moment your leg muscles turn “dead” no matter how hard you try it will remain a very difficult task to return them back to life. Therefore, superior leg strength (muscle strength endurance) is just as important to running as is upper body strength.
Start slowly and work with lighter weights in the beginning to give your body time to adapt to the new stress and to strengthen for heavier loads later in the program. Strength is developed with heavier weights (80-95% of 1RM) , and a lower repetition count (less than 6)).