Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weightlifting and distance running in one event? Yep, it exists.

Road races and weightlifting usually aren't compatible as one activity. You typically choose to do one or the other.

As an athlete in high school, weightlifting was a pretty significant part of my routine. We lifted after practice on most days and had a summer incentive program dedicated to improving our basic weightlifting numbers (bench press, squats, cleans, ect.). While my lifting numbers never reached the lofty heights of some of my classmates, I was thrilled nonetheless when they showed progress and validated the work I put in. It was also gratifying to see my previously doughy physique fill out with some muscle.

Road races have become more of a focus for me in adulthood. It's not that I don't like weightlifting or don't see the value in it. In fact, I still put in a fair amount of time in the weight room. I just feel that a cardio focus is better for my overall health than obsessing about pumping iron, something most medical journals agree with as well. I think it's better to strike a balance between strength and endurance than emphasize one or the other.

That mindset doesn't always translate to success in a competition setting. There aren't a lot of body builders who train for weightlifting contests by running 30+ miles a week. Likewise, you won't see too many elite marathon runners maxing out on bench press and packing on muscle before a race.

However, that well-balanced approach might come in handy for me this weekend as I will be competing in the Pump & Run 5K on Saturday in Osakis, Minn. Unlike regular road races, this event adds in a weightlifting element. Participants will get a 30-second reduction off their race time based on the number of times they can bench press a percentage of their body weight before the race.

My friend Jessica first informed me about the race a few weeks back and I was almost immediately intrigued by it. As mentioned with the Warrior Dash and Ragnar previously, I tend to gravitate toward events that are unique and different from the norm. The Pump & Run certainly fits that billing, plus it appears to be a rare competition that rewards my balanced approach to lifting and running. On top of that, I'll get to hang out with a friend I don't see very often and the race takes place in a town that's 30 minutes away from my parent's cabin and also pretty close to my hometown, meaning I'll get to visit family as well.

I'm not really sure how the race will pan out. I don't bench press nearly as much as I once did and my running routine has been off-and-on since Ragnar last month. Still, I like my chances in the race and I'm looking forward to what should be a fun weekend.

And since writing this made me think of a classic SNL skit about "pumping up," here it is for my readers to enjoy.