Ironstrength: Strength Training for Runners

Dr. Jordan Metzl
Dr. Jordan Metzl

Lately I’ve been focusing my yoga practice on strength training. We yogis tend to be a flexible bunch, and we don’t always know how to support the joints we’ve so arduously opened. (Remember, once you get that Monkey you have to take care of it…) So I was uber-excited to have my friend Laura invite me to a free “Ironstrength” class. She’s a marathoner, suffering from hip pain; her sports medicine doctor Jordan Metzl offers these classes, “a one hour, intense session of plyometrics and strength exercises designed for runners and triathletes,” for free, as a service to others. How awesome is that? (He’s finished 8 triathalons and 28 marathons, btw. He knows what he’s talking about.)

The class was hosted at the gorgeous Equinox gym on the Upper East Side. 60 people filled the classroom, equipped with hand weights and yoga mats. Dr. Metzl blasted music, and cheered us on the whole time. The routine was:

  1. Warm ups — Jumping jacks, etc (I was late, I missed this part)
  2. Jump squats — Keep arms forward, butt back, squat down and jump up. With a smile! (15 reps, EIGHT sets)
  3. Rotation 1 — Go straight from pose to pose (15 reps of each, repeat to fill 6 minutes)
    1. Pushup pose, arms straight, grasping weights — roll onto right hand, lift left weight to ear, repeat other side
    2. Pushups — knees bent if you have to
    3. Situps — standard style
  4. Rotation 2 — (10 reps of each, repeat to fill 5 minutes)
    1. Lunge plyos — right foot forward, both knees bent, lightly hop and switch feet, repeat other side
    2. Hamstring circles front — with one leg lifted slightly forward, bend down and touch other foot, repeat other side
    3. Hamstring circles side — with one leg lifted slightly sideways, bend down and touch other foot, repeat other side
  5. Rotation 3 — (15 reps of each, repeat to fill 5 minutes)
    1. Mountain climbers — in Low Lunge pose, hop and switch feet
    2. Leg drops — flat on back, legs together, raise to 90Ί and lift hips, lower hips and lower legs almost to floor
  6. Rotation 4 — (15 reps of each, to fill 5 minutes)
    1. Deadlifts — holding weights, squat and drop arms towards floor, straighten and lift weights by ears
    2. Overhead press — holding weights, turn palms up, press towards ceiling
    3. Curls — holding weights, elbows by sides, flex biceps and curl fists towards shoulders
  7. Ring of Fire — little squats (10 in each position, then 8, then 6, 4, 2, 1)
    1. Lunge facing forward
    2. Turn feet parallel
    3. Lunge facing the other way
    4. Step feet together
  8. Squat Thrusts aka Burpees — (10 reps, 4 sets)
    1. Squat and touch floor
    2. Jump/step back to Plank
    3. Pushup
    4. Jump/step forward
    5. Jump up to sky
  9. Planks — hold for 1 minute each
    1. Side Plank, right forearm down
    2. Forearm Plank, both forearms down
    3. Side Plank, left forearm down
  10. Stretch

So you strengthen both the muscles used (or overused) by running, and the accessory muscles that help you stay balanced. I was ready to PUKE by the Burpees. I hadn’t done most of this stuff since college (crew). It was a great workout. The rotations mean that you’re exercising one muscle group as you rest another. My friend and I were sore for days afterwards.

The next class is January 22nd at 3pm at the 85th St Equinox. If you’re a member, you can go ahead and sign up; for everyone else the RSVPs will open a week beforehand. Stay strong!