Here’s a question from Jonathan from our Facebook page:

here’s a subject how does lifting heavy help you run long, I know I asked you in person but maybe other people would like to know. Looking at the title Lift Heavy Run Long some people may not know that lifting heavy can and will help you run long…just an idea. Or talk more about what you have accomplished every time I talk to you there is something new….

This is a great question, and sort of leads into an extension of what I started talking about in this post.  Personally I think that every runner should be lifting heavy.  I think being strong and mobile can only improve your performance.  I believe that if you are a runner, you need to be squatting heavy, under a real barbell, frequently.  I don’t care if you run 5K’s or 100 Milers, you need to be squatting heavy regularly. I don’t have any science to give you, but why wouldn’t you want your legs to be as strong as possible?  Why wouldn’t you want to be as strong as you could possibly be?

Again, here’s where I diverge from traditional runners.  Most elite runners could care less whether or not they can pick 450lbs off the ground.  Most elite runners aren’t concerned with how much they can clean and jerk.  THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.  If your goal is to run a marathon+ distance race and win it or run it in less than 3 hours, then I’m not entirely sure you are ever going to be able to Squat more than 300lbs. or deadlift 400+.

Personally, I don’t care if I ever win the race or win my age group.  What I care about is being stronger than everyone that beats me.  If there is someone stronger than me in the race, then I better run faster than them.  Here are my goals:

  • Strongest AND Fastest Ultra Runner in the world
  • Keep increasing lift PR’s and decreasing race times

In short, if you run long races faster than me then I better be stronger.  If you are stronger than me I better run long races faster than you.  I need to pass this test with every athlete I meet. If I don’t then I’m coming after you (and I REALLY want to talk with you, email me:!

So, that’s WHY I do what I do and train the way I do, but that doesn’t really answer Jonathan’s question.  Why do I think lifting heavy can help you run long?  Anyone that has ran the Ouachita 50Sylamore or any other mountainous ultra run can tell you that climbing mountains and running up steep hills is hard.  Most times it sucks.  I can tell you that every hill I come to during a run, I thank my coach for programming all those squats and cleans into my training.  Bring on the hills, I love them.  I don’t finish the race as fast as the skinny dude, but I could probably carry the winner of the race on my shoulders for the entire race.  Who would you rather find yourself wounded on a hunting trip with?  The guy that wins the race or the guy that can throw you over his shoulder and carry you to safety?

So here we are at what I think is the real question.  Most people are not interested in winning marathons.  Most people just want to finish marathons.  Hell, most first time marathoners just want to finish under 5 hours somewhere and they are happy with that. Sub 5 hours is a great time for a first time marathoner, but think about all the miles that a 4:30-5:30 marathoner put in leading up to their first race.  Hours and hours and miles and miles of training.  I don’t think they had to do that.  I didn’t do that.  I was doing Crossfit workouts, lifting heavy and doing a few runs on the weekends.  I’m not saying that my method is easy.  I work really F’ng hard.  I’m just saying that you don’t have to put in all those miles and risk injury.  You can use Crossfit as a tool to get you to your first long race.  You don’t have to be weak and skinny.  You can be strong, you can be hard to kill, you can pick 400lbs off the ground and still be a decent runner.  I did it.  3:50 at my first marathon.  Get on board, ya’ll!!

-Lift Heavy, Run Long