• Abby Heffern

What Runners and Weightlifters Could Learn From Each Other

By Abby Heffern

I am very lucky to be both a Weightlifting coach and a running coach, as well as a competitive athlete myself in both sports. It's an incredible gift to be a part of these sports that are about maximizing the two most basic facets of human potential- strength and endurance. It also affords me an interesting perspective as a coach, as I interact with two worlds of athletes that tend to think they should have nothing to do with the other - as their physical goals differ so greatly.

When weightlifters gawk at runners who cover the marathon or ultra distance, wondering what could posses a human being to want to do such a thing, and runners cringe watching a weightlifter's body absorb the force of a 300lb barbell landing overhead- I can't help but think how much they have in common that they don't even realize, and even better, how much they could learn from each other.

What endurance runners could learn from weightlifters is the importance of following a plan. Many runners that come to me for coaching have never done anything but long, slow runs at the same pace, without any plan of progressing or peaking for their race. In fact, getting new runners to add in tempo runs, fartlek runs, hill repeats, and strength training can be a little bit like pulling teeth at first. In contrast, the strength of the weightlifter is their love of the plan, progression, and peaking at the perfect moment for meet day. They typically have a good understanding of how doing things at varied intensities and varied percentages of their max ability is beneficial to performance and longevity. I would love for my weightlifters to share this understanding with some of my runners.

What weightlifters could learn from endurance runners is an absolutely unmatched mental fortitude. There is no doubt that weightlifters are incredibly mentally tough in their own right for what they have to do, but endurance runners give mental toughness new meaning with their ability to not just endure the physical pain of running 26, 30, 50, or 100 miles- but the mental pain of fighting the doubts and negative thoughts that come with each step- for hours and hours and hours on end. Many sign up for the sport because they want to challenge themselves mentally, so I don't typically have to teach them the concept of not just surviving the hard days, but embracing them as powerful creators of mental toughness. I do typically have to teach this to many of my weightlifters, especially the beginners, so I would love my runners to share their mindset tactics with some of my weightlifters.

All that being said, the most important and beautiful thing that I get to witness as a dual sport coach is that even with their differences, weightlifters and runners have far more more in common than they realize. I've never met a weightlifter or a runner who wasn't hopeful and excited about what their body could accomplish, driven to work hard, and passionate about their community. Though my weightlifters may never run a marathon, and my runners may never snatch a bar- I hope that Wild Dog Athletics is one day a place where they're all training side by side, inspiring each other through their incredible athletic feats and courageous exploration of human potential.

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Interested in 1-on-1 or remote coaching? Contact us at wilddogatheltics.info@gmail.com, find us on Instagram @wild_dogathletics, or come visit us at 3125 Fortune Way, Wellington FL.

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