Episode 16 – Jason Fitzgerald- Strength Running Has Kept Me Running Nearly Injury Free Since 2009

Jason Fitzgerald: The Strength Running Podcast

Jason Fitzgerald wasn’t always a runner….in fact, he HATED running! Eventually running grew on him…..but so did the all too common running injuries. So much so that after his first marathon, he saw 4 different physical therapists in an effort to recover from an injury. But after much pondering and reading, Jason realized that Strength Training isn’t in addition to his running, but is a PART OF his running training!

Join Jason and I as he shares his journey as a runner, and in building Strength Running into a podcast with over 1 million downloads, and his website www.StrengthRunning.com into one of the top running blogs on the internet, and how he sees strength training help you stay out on the road, doing what you love to do!





Human Vortex Training and Menachem Brodie present The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast, where we talk strength training, physiology, psychology, tech and much more, to help you get fitter, faster and stronger in and out of your sport, giving you expert insights, talking with other leading experts.

And now, your host, world leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie.

Menachem Brodie:

Hey, everybody, and welcome to this episode of The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast. We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus the last couple of weeks, six weeks to be honest, because we’ve had a lot going on here at Human Vortex Training. Aside from having two interns, one from the University of Maryland, and one from Eastern Carolina University, we also have been working with professional basketball players, cyclists, triathletes from around the world, a couple who have flown in to see me for a couple different episodes that they’ve had on their back and hips.

And if you follow us on Instagram, here’s July 23rd, 2019, you’ll actually see that we’re running a special for the next 14 days. But in order to find out about it, you either have to sign up for the HVT newsletter, or like and follow us on Instagram, or follow us I guess, because we are only announcing this in our social media. I’m just mentioning it here today, because I happen to be behind the ball with the podcast and wanted to get this out.

Now, one other thing before we jump in to today’s guest and what’s going on. I want to mention to you something that I’m extremely excited, and I’ve been working on for almost a year and a half or a little over a year and a half at this point. And that is the Human Vortex Training strength training for cycling certification course.

So for those of you who have taken the Strength Training for Cycling Success program, and the Strength Training for Triathlon Success Program on TrainingPeaks University, quite a few of you have emailed and said, “Hey, do you have a certification? I really enjoyed this. But I feel like there’s so much more that you have to teach and for me to know about this. The course gets me started, but I want to know more.”

And it’s finally happening. So if you are on the HV Training newsletter, then you can sign up by going to humanvortextraining.com. And just signing up for our newsletter, you’re going to get an insider pricing, special early pricing for the HVT Strength Training for Cycling Certification course which will be released late 2019, early 2020.

We still have more work to do on it, this course is incredibly in depth. You are going to get everything that I wish I had when I started working with cyclists and more, so much more. Anatomy, physiology, how to build a training plan, in depth, even more in depth, how to do the assessments.

Those are the top two questions I get actually from the Strength Training for Cycling Success and Strength Training for Triathlon Success course. Number one is, can you get more in depth about how to build the program? We do that in this course.

Number two is can you get more in depth, how you’re doing this assessment and what you’re trying to tease out? We get into that. So lots of great stuff coming up from Human Vortex Training and me here. I’m very excited. Tons, literally hundreds of hours of work have gone into this program. And we’re still working out some kinks here. And we’re making it even better.

And the best part is, this program is going to be a live. It’s not going to be me finishing recording it whenever I finish it or putting the content together. It’s constantly going to be updated. You are going to have access to that once you pay for the course once.

There is no, “Oh, we’re releasing version three, version four, you have to pay again.” Once you purchase it, it’s yours, you get the updates. So make sure you’re signing up for the HVT newsletter on humanvortextraining.com.

And if you are interested in a very special, special, keep an eye out, because Instagram and our newsletter, we’re going to talk about a very special, very short-term in-depth that you’re going to get with a small focus group with me for the launch. So make sure you keep your eyes out.

Now, for today’s guest, Jason Fitzgerald of strengthrunning.com. He’s an incredible guy. I like to say that he and I are birds of a feather, not only because we understand and recognize that strength training is so integral, as a part of your training, as a runner, as a cyclist, as a triathlete.

But also because we both went through this thing of pondering, because we failed or we had issues. And he’s going to share his story how after his first marathon, he went to four different physical therapists to try and deal with an injury. And after that, he was riddled with ITB bent issues, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, and so many other injuries.

But in 2009, something changed, and that was, he read, he pondered, he learned, just like I did, how do I get better at this? How do I avoid this from happening? How do I keep other people, other runners from becoming a part of the statistic of the 70% to 80% of runners that get hurt every single year, to the point that they can no longer go out and run for a week, two weeks, a month? How do we break that addiction to progress of, “I’m just going to add mileage, I’m just going to add speed, I’m just going to do this?”

Well, Jason has a fantastic story that he shares, including how he went from 2009 to 2014 with one injury, and really, it wasn’t even an injury. It was more of an issue, a little Achilles issue that, check this, in five years, he lost just six training days, six, and he still went up running, Boston.

Think about that. You’re a runner, or you have been a runner, or you know a runner or a triathlete, you know that it’s a constant running list of the current injuries that they have, or reasons they can’t do running training, or swimming training, or bike training, because of an injury that they have. So Jason is going to share with us a lot of deep knowledge as to how strength training is the best way to decrease injuries.

So without much further ado, let’s get into one of the… most excited I’ve been for a podcast, as well as Lead to Have. That was another good one. So if you haven’t heard that, jump back. But let’s get into this episode with Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running.

Jason, thank you so much for joining us today.

Jason Fitzgerald:

I am pumped to be here. Thanks so much for having me.

Menachem Brodie:

And it sounds like we had a great conversation yesterday, which is on the Strong Running Podcast at this point. And I think we have some really, really great stuff coming down the pike for the listeners here today.

Just looking at the Strong Running, or Strength Running, excuse me, website is, there’s so much information up there and it’s not what you’d expect to find, but it’s right the stuff, in my opinion. Are you still running? Are you still going out there?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Oh, yeah, I actually just finished a workout a half an hour ago. And so I feel like I have indoor track voice right now. So I’m a little hoarse.

But no, I’m still training. I actually signed up for a 12 mile trail race out in the Rocky Mountains in early June. I’m getting ready for that. I’m really excited for it.

I’m not really training as much as once was when I was right out of college running up to 90 miles a week and all that. But I’m running as much as I can and doing what I can with three little kids and a growing business.

Menachem Brodie:

Wow. And just from the looks of it on the website, you have really grown quite a bit. But let’s get into Strength Running after we learn a little bit more about you. What’s your story? And how did you become a runner?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Wow, I became a runner by accident. I actually hated running as a kid, which is kind of ironic, if you look at me today. I was the kid in middle school who avoided all of the running events during track and field week in gym class. And instead, I was the 110 pound kid throwing the shot put and trying long jump, because if it wasn’t running, I was interested in it.

But I also really liked golf. And for some reason, I really wanted to do a fall sport when I was a freshman in high school. I wanted the team community and a new group of friends like that. And I was split between golf and cross country. Cross country, they said was like track. So I was like, oh, maybe I’ll go and I’ll high jump.

I got there on the first day of practice. I chose cross country over golf. And I quickly realized that there are no field events in cross country. And then all we’re doing is just running a lot every single day.

But I ended up sticking with it, because I really liked the coach. He was a great guy, he made all the new runners feel welcome on the team, which I think is just such an undeniable advantage for a young runner. And then just the guys on the team were really fun. So we’re going on runs and just telling jokes and having a great time.

Now, of course my first run, I didn’t even make it three miles. I had to walk a lot. It wasn’t very pretty. And I felt like I got run over by a truck for a week after that one, two mile run. But I got over that.

And it’s one of those things that once you get over the hump of running, then you quickly get addicted to the progress that you start experiencing. So you just start being able to do more, being able to run faster, seeing your finish times plummet. I got addicted to that.

I made a really hard choice after that first cross country season to abandon my sport of choice, the love of my youth which was basketball. I was always a basketball player. And I just loved basketball so much, I never thought that I would not be a basketball player.

But I had to face reality. All my friends got a lot taller between eighth grade and ninth grade and I really didn’t. Even now, I’m only 5’7 and I had to recognize that I probably wasn’t going to be a very good high school basketball player.

I started running and very soon, I started doing indoor track. I just absolutely loved it, decided that this was my thing. I kept running, I kept gradually getting a little bit faster, every couple of weeks in a race situation. And I just loved that. I think a lot of runners can relate to that, when they see the fruits of their effort.

I ended up running in college at Connecticut College in New London. And ever since then, I’ve just kept at it. I’m still running, I’m still training, not quite as much as I once was. But I really can’t see myself not training anymore, because I get so much out of it. And it’s such a core piece of who I am.

Menachem Brodie:

You mentioned quite a few things in there. It sounds like the precursor to the Strength Running was already seeded at a young age with doing the shot put and thinking about the high jump as opposed to running.

But you also mentioned that you really got into and stuck with cross country, because of a great coach. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Sure. So Jeff Glue, that’s his name, he was the cross country coach, and he was just someone that you really respected. And he didn’t yell at you, he didn’t make you run extra for bad behavior. And God knows that I had plenty of bad behavior as a high schooler.

But he was just someone who you wanted to run your best for, you didn’t want to disappoint him. And it was just a way that he carried himself that everyone really respected. It was a really great way of instilling a passion for the sport.

Everyone that I went to high school with that ran, a lot of us went on to run in college, and a lot of us are still running today. I look at that team and the culture that he created as something that I was so fortunate to be a part of. I don’t think I’m ever going to get that back. That’s just one of those things that you get once and it’s an amazing experience, and it stays with you for the rest of your life.

And because of that culture, that’s how I met some of my best friends. One of my co-captains on that high school cross country team, my senior year, ended up being my best man at my wedding, let’s see, nine years after we graduated. I’m very much still in touch with a lot of the guys that I ran with, both in high school and college. I don’t think I would be, if I didn’t have such a great coach at the very outset.

Menachem Brodie:

It sounds like he focused much more not just on the sport itself, but the enjoyment and camaraderie. Would that be a true statement?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Absolutely. He was always looking for different ways to help us bond together as a team. I remember we had this tradition every year, where the day before a meet, instead of going for maybe an easy three mile run and doing a bunch of strides, we played flag… No, what was it? Capture the Flag, and we went to this huge field, and we probably got in three or four miles. And a lot of it was pretty high intensity.

In hindsight, maybe it wasn’t the best thing to do the day before a race. But it wasn’t a very important race. And it was just an awesome way for us to have fun together as a team, as opposed to just be training all the time.

And he also encouraged us to go out for team dinners the night before our races. We certainly did that. And he wasn’t even a part of that. He just encouraged us to do it. We met up at different pizza places and different restaurants to have our team dinners. It was all because of him. And it was an amazing experience to go through.

Menachem Brodie:

That’s really, really cool. And the linchpin was just put in there, with some of your blog posts, where it’s very nice because of how you’re writing them is talking with the reader, not at the reader. It’s really more of, “This is the information out there. This is what I think and this is what makes sense to me.” But it’s not a sharp pointed, “This is the only way.”

And it sounds like that was ingrained at a young age. Did he do that as well with the team workouts where he explained it and why it’s important and then fielded questions a little bit more?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Yeah, he always welcomed questions from the team. I was always the type of runner who was asking a lot of questions. This was a little bit more when I got into college and got really, really into the training and I started reading books about running and asking my coach way too many questions and really annoying him with, “What’s the purpose of this? Why are we doing this today? Why not tomorrow? Why don’t we do this part of the workout first?” All of those questions that you ask.

But he certainly didn’t over coach us, and he didn’t lay things out in such a dogmatic way that we absolutely had to adhere to. He understood that there was flexibility, and I think any good coach understands that.

The answer is it depends, to most questions about exercise. It depends on your goals. It depends on your fitness level, it depends on where you’re at in the season. It depends on what you might have done in the last couple days or last few weeks. There’s so many different issues that affect what we might be doing on a given day, or why a workout is structured a certain way, or why we’re doing things one way rather than a different way.

And so when it comes to coaching and running and training, I like to point out the many different ways that we can accomplish our goals, while at the same time, really highlighting the fundamental principles that guide our decision-making. Because while there are so many different ways of training and developing workouts and all that, there are a lot of big picture principles that guide our training that maybe can be bent, but probably should not be broken.

Menachem Brodie:

So you mentioned quite a lot there. There’s so much there. Just to pull out, it depends. That really is the recurring theme that goes on, and it sounds like your guiding light from the beginning of, “I love the sport, let’s learn about it.” And you got to that point of, “I should probably share this stuff with people.”

Was that something that a lot of people were coming to you and asking you questions, or it was more, you’re sitting in front of a keyboard back in, what was it, 2009, 2010? You’re like, “You know what, I’m going to start a running blog.” What was that tipping point for you to start sharing that information from all the books you read in college, all the experiences you had with the coach in high school? What was that tipping point? And what’s continued you on the last nine years?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Yeah, that’s a good question. And it was a little bit of both. I was very frequently the friend that a lot of my other friends were coming to for running suggestions, because they knew that not only was I a runner, not only did I run in college, and was continuing to run post-collegiately, but I was someone who really loved to geek out on the training side of things. And I was reading Daniel’s Running Formula and Brad Hudson’s Run Faster, just for kicks, on the weekends.

And so I definitely got a lot of that from my friends. But I think the most impactful thing for me was when I ran my first marathon. I ran the New York City Marathon in 2008, about two years after I graduated from college. And it was both a great experience and an awful experience.

I had pretty good training leading up to the race, with a couple things that I felt like were lacking. But I was your typical, cocky, 25-year-old guy who ran in college and had a speed background and thought that he could negative split the last five miles of the New York City Marathon.

And as many people know, who have run Boston, or I’m sorry, New York, it’s just not really that kind of a course. If you’re feeling good in the last couple miles of New York, you probably ran really, really easy in the first 20 miles of the race.

I had the very typical cliched hit the wall at mile 20, and then just have an epic slow down. I remember a senior citizen passing me at mile 25. It was a very good hit to the ego. I think I needed that.

And what happened afterwards was, I took I think eight or nine days off and started to run again afterwards. But after a couple runs, I developed IT band syndrome. And this was an injury that I had never experienced to this extent. It was so severe, it was painful when I wasn’t running. I actually didn’t run for about six months.

I spent most of that time just self-loathing on the couch, watching reruns of House, it was very embarrassing. But I decided after about four months, I need to get back to running, because I don’t feel like myself. I don’t feel like I’m doing what I love to do.

I ended up seeing four physical therapists, doing countless research online, just to figure out, why does this injury happen? What causes it? How do you treat it? What’s going on? And after about six months, I was able to start running again.

And that was a real big tipping point for me because I realized that if I wanted to achieve my potential and run some of these longer races, without completely destroying myself, then I needed a new approach to my training. And this was, I think, early to mid 2009. I really changed how I trained.

I did a lot of different things that I wasn’t doing before, and before New York, I was a pretty injury prone athlete, especially in college. I certainly ran a lot of PRs in college, but I was hurt a lot too. I had Achilles tendinopathy. I had IT band syndrome. I had plantar fasciitis, I had SI joint problems. All kinds of different muscle strains and all the niggles that you really can’t define, but they impact your training. I was tired of that.

I really revamped how I approached my running, and from 2009 through when I ran the Boston Marathon in 2014, I really only had one injury that required any kind of substantial time off. And it was a fairly minor Achilles problem in the lead up to Boston that, within I think six or seven days, I was back running at my previous level. And it wasn’t really one of those season ending injuries.

And to this day, I haven’t had one of those major injuries that have really just required me to take months off or even weeks off. So for me, that was the tipping point. I felt like a lot of runners know how to run. They can go out there, they can do a workout, they can go do a long run.

But the problem becomes when, if I’m going to train for a race, how do I increase my mileage? How do I develop a progression of workouts over the course of an entire season? What am I doing the other 23 hours a day that are going to impact my training as well?

I got much more interested in strength training. I got much more interested in dynamic flexibility work, and also in making sure that my easy days were truly very easy. And these were things that I just wasn’t doing before.

It sounds silly now, because I think running has come a long way in the last 10 years. And telling runners that strength training is important or that they have to do a dynamic warmup before they run, these are all common things now. You can go on Runner’s World, and you see a lot of articles about this. 10 years ago, it wasn’t really the case.

So when I started Strength Running in early 2010, it was because I felt like I had something to share with the running community. I felt like I had gone through the gauntlet myself, dealt with all these injuries, finally come up with a set of philosophies that really dramatically lessen a runner’s risk of injury.

And that was my goal with Strength Running to share what I have learned in the process. And it’s a way of me sharing based on my expertise, with my USATF coaching certification, but also with my experience, and all the self-education I’ve done as a self-coached coach.

And then also, just my experience working with so many different runners since 2010. So that’s the genesis of Strength Running. And you’re right, it has grown really tremendously over the years. And I’m incredibly proud of it and the community that we’ve built.

Menachem Brodie:

And you’ve put in thousands of hours. It’s very evident with the changes the website’s gone over the last three years, the podcast growth as well. I’m guessing you’re probably around 1,010,000 at this point, if not more, but these are huge milestones.

And if I’m not mistaken, when you started Strength Running, essentially, you were going upstream. You were talking about things that, it was still that stigma of, well, it’s normal to have a laundry list of injuries, and it’s just badges of running the miles.

But at the same time, you’re standing there and you’re saying, “Well, actually, guys, there’s a better way to do this.” And it involves dynamic warm-ups, not stretching your hamstrings like everybody does before the start of a race. Actually, you should do the opposite.

What was that experience like of, did you have haters come out of the woodwork or people calling you out online and you just stuck with it? Or did you find that runners in 2009, 2010 were receptive, were willing to listen to what you had to say?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Well, that’s pretty funny. I certainly assaulted a lot of conventional pieces of wisdom in those early days. I still do occasionally.

But there was a little bit of a mixed bag. Some runners were very receptive to some of those ideas and some runners loved the, “But it worked for me,” defense, which I always think is such a silly way of evaluating whether or not some training idea or methodology is actually working for certain runners.

But some things like don’t do a lot of static stretching before you go running. This is something that if you want to do a little bit of targeted stretching, you shouldn’t just spend 10 minutes doing all this static stretching before you go running. It’s been studied and it actually reduces your performance and may actually increase your risk of injury, which is a very counter thing that runners…

Runners have been told to stretch out before you go running. A lot of runners have been told, “You need to be as light as possible, you don’t want to carry on any extra bulk. So strength training is not something that runners should be doing.”

I’ve had an evolution in my thinking over the years on strength training, and now I’m bullish on runners getting in the gym and lifting heavy weight and doing Olympic lifts. I’ve done complete 180, even on my thinking, when it comes to strength training.

And then a lot of other things like taking it so, so easy on your recovery days, and when you look at the training of some of East Africa’s best marathoners, these are guys that start the first mile or two of their runs at nine minute mile pace. Now, they’re running a marathon under five minute mile pace.

So if they can start that much slower than their marathon pace, that’s a principle that we can then apply to our own training and say to ourselves, “There’s nothing wrong with running really slow.” It aids recovery, it reduces our injury risk, it presents a lot less wear and tear on the body.

So there’s a lot of different things that I was talking about a little bit early, that some runners I think were receptive to. I got a lot of great results for a lot of clients over the years, but you’re right, some runners were not very receptive to it. I think they’ve come around now.

Menachem Brodie:

I honestly think that a lot of it’s thanks to what you were able to accomplish and getting it out there and being receptive, because again, none of your posts are, “This is the way.” It’s like, “This is what I found worked. This is what has actually worked with case studies, as opposed to conventional wisdom.”

And there’s still people out there who think that strength training for runners is not a good idea and runners are weak. Well, inherently in the numbers, yeah, of course, we should be. We shouldn’t be deadlifting 200 kilos or 500 pounds. We don’t have to be for our sport, we need to be light, but strong, stiff. And it sounds like that’s something that has really progressed in your approach as well.

Can we talk about a little bit how you went from that corrective body weight, and made that transition to not just weight lifting, but picking heavy things up and picking heavy things up powerfully?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Sure, absolutely. When I was recovering from that IT band injury after the New York City Marathon in 2008, that’s when I started incorporating a lot of what I’ll call rehabilitative type of strength training into my running program.

I did this by developing this simple, easy way of remembering it. I call it the sandwiching method. This is simply, we are going to make a run sandwich. Your run is going to be sandwiched in between a dynamic mobility warmup. And then it’s going to be followed by some type of 10 or 20 minute bodyweight strength or runner specific core routine.

So, they’re not super hard. They’re a lot of the same exercises that you might do in physical therapy, if you went in there with a knee injury or a hip injury. Very glute and hip oriented. And these are routines that are going to get you stronger, absolutely.

But I like to say that while bodyweight is good, weighted lifts are better. I think that the ideal kind of programming that a runner can enjoy is, when they’re getting in the gym to actually do some real strength training, when they’re doing weightlifting, picking up heavy implements off the floor, maybe you’re doing some of it powerfully, if it’s the right time of the year.

And then that’s only two days a week. The other days that you’re running, then you can do some of the more easy bodyweight stuff. And you can see this in the training of elite runners. They get in the gym, and they do a lot of strength work, but they’re not in the gym every single day.

A lot of the stuff they’re doing is bodyweight strength exercises. They’re using some relatively light medicine balls or exercise bands. And it’s almost like pre-hab. They’re doing the rehab that they would be doing if they were injured, but they’re doing it when they’re healthy on the days that they’re not in the gym.

I think this is such a great way of structuring strength training for endurance runners, because it balances the two demands, or the two goals of strength training, which is injury prevention on one side, and performance improvement on the other. And there’s certainly so much overlap between the two.

But I think the bodyweight stuff leans a little bit more heavily to the injury prevention side of things. And then what you’re doing in the gym with heavier types of lifts, some fundamental basic exercise movements like squats, deadlifts, presses, et cetera, those kinds of exercises, I think are a little bit more weighted towards the performance side of things. So they’re going to improve your strength or improve your ability to produce force. And those are the things that are going to help you improve your economy, so you can run faster at the same effort and improve your ability to kick and finish really strong at the end of the race.

So, this has been a like decade in the making for me, but I’m really glad I’m here, because I think it’s where runners should be.

Menachem Brodie:

And a lot of that ties into your own story. I think that that’s very strong. We always, as human beings, once someone sits down and says, “Once upon a time,” we’re all, “Tell me about it.” And if you try and get up and leave before you finish the story people, “Wait, wait, what was the end?”

So it’s an important part for us to learn from our own experiences, because it allows us that connection to share with people, but also not to be blind to our own experience as being the end all, be all. And that’s part of the issues that I personally have with conventional wisdom is it comes from just somebody saying, “Oh, this is great.” Or being a great orator, and selling something and people saying, “Oh, yeah, that’s what I’m doing,” without actually questioning it.

I was very much like you are Jason in high school, college. Why? Why are we doing this? What about doing this? Thankfully, it sounds like we both had coaches that either knew how to deal with us and not turn us off or to actually give us the right answer. “Well, it depends. Anytime you ask me a question, Brodie, it depends.” Just just start with that.

What do you feel is really the two or three myths or misconceptions that you wish would die forever right now? Maybe not forever, but that people would wake up and realize it’s common knowledge, but it’s really not that common, it’s not really knowledge.

Jason Fitzgerald:

That’s a great one. There are a lot of myths. I think one of the most prevalent is the fact that it relates to strength training. I think there’s these myths or misconceptions that runners have that either, I shouldn’t be doing strength work or if I’m going to be doing some strength training, I shouldn’t lift heavy weight, because I’m either going to put on muscle, or I need to be in the gym, lifting high reps at low weights for endurance.

I think that’s just the wrong way of thinking about strength training. Because when we think of ourselves as runners, I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice. I actually tell runners, “You’re not a runner, you’re an athlete that specializes in running.” And that really reframes how runners think about their training.

Because all of a sudden, they know that they can’t just go out running every day. There’s no other sport where the athletes only play the sport. Basketball players don’t just play basketball, soccer players don’t just play soccer, runners don’t just run. We have to be doing drills, we have to be doing strength training, we have to be doing dynamic mobility exercises.

There’s so many other things that we can incorporate into our training that are going to make us better coordinated, have more athleticism, improve our injury resilience, and ultimately get stronger and faster. And so this one is like a multifaceted myth with all these misconceptions about strength training.

But if this would die, the running community would be stronger, our injury rate, which depending on the source is upwards of 70% or 75% of runners are going to get hurt every single year. I think that number would fall dramatically. And it really just requires runners to prioritize strength training.

And I think besides the structure of your training itself, strength training is probably the best way for you to prevent injuries. So, if anyone’s listening who does struggle with injuries, or not sure, is strength training really going to help me, am I going to get too bulky, is it going to take away from my running or subtract from it in any kind of way? Strength training is probably one of the best things you can do to prevent injuries.

I would very much like to see runners get on the strength training bandwagon and learn more about it and just commit to doing more than what they’re doing now. Maybe you’re not getting in the gym, and doing a really formal, complex weightlifting workout twice a week. But let’s start with the bodyweight work.

Once you get really proficient with that, once it almost becomes a little bit easy, then we can start adding in a little bit more complexity, some band work or medicine ball work or dumbbells or kettlebell work.

And then once you’re there, then we can say, “Are you interested in doing some more formal weightlifting?” And then we can take the next step with our training. But it’s a philosophy that requires us to think about strength training as an integral piece of our training.

And in fact, I don’t even like to call strength training cross training. I just call it part of the training we do as runners.

Menachem Brodie:

I think that’s fantastic. And such a needed message in the running community, because exactly, you said, I was just going to say, people are going to say, “But Jason, it’s cross training.” Nope, there goes that, that’s down.

So what would you say… and I know you have a couple different training programs that are up on Strength Running, so I’m not asking you to sell the secret sauce. But what would you say for the average user out there, the average listener, who’s just getting started into running for this year, so we’re coming out of the winter.

By the time this is posted, actually, let’s change it. Let’s say it’s mid-summer and you’re in your 40 to 50 miles a week range. You’re eyeing a fall marathon or half marathon, and you’ve never strength trained before. What would be three or four things or exercises that you’d recommend that they should begin to add to their program to help them begin to see the gains that can come from using proper strength training?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Yeah, if you’re running 50 miles a week and not doing any strength training, I applaud you for being probably a very economical runner and not getting hurt so much. But I think first, let’s stop talking about exercises and start thinking more in terms of routines.

I like to develop 10, 15, 20 minute exercise routines that focus on certain areas. So for example, one of the things that I actually developed to treat my own IT band injury after that New York City Marathon in 2008, was something I called the ITB rehab routine. I’m very creative.

And it’s a series of exercises that really focus on the glutes, the hips and targeting the muscles that really control your stride and impact the IT band. And so even if you don’t have IT band syndrome, the glutes and hips are two of the most important muscles not only to prevent injuries, but for performance, these are the muscles that power your stride.

I would just have runners think about routines. What is a 10 to 15 minute routine that I can follow or run with, that is going to get me stronger and help me cool down from that run? Then you don’t have to worry about picking 10 different exercises or sequencing them, et cetera. You’re just like, “Oh, I’m going to do that core workout or I’m going to do the ITB rehab routine or I’m going to do the gauntlet plank workout.” These are all just routines I’ve created on the Strength Running site.

And that’s it, then you can just go do that routine. And as long as you’re alternating through them, you’re getting a lot of different and variable stresses.

I like to give runners a lot of easy hip mobility work on their easy days. And then on their moderate or hard days, we might do a 20 to 25 minute core workout that is fairly comprehensive. Or we might do something like the ITB rehab routine, which is more difficult. There’s things like bodyweight, single leg squats, pistol squats, which are very challenging, but really helps runners with the glutes, the hips, single leg strength and making sure that you don’t have too much of an imbalance between the right and left leg

So these routines, I think, are really helpful for runners, not just because they are focused on a different aspect of your strength, but that they almost take a lot of the thinking out of it. And I think that’s a really important part that runners shouldn’t look over. Let’s not think too hard about our strength training.

Because at the end of the day, we’re runners and we want to be out there running. I’m just like most runners, I actually don’t even like strength training that much. But I understand how valuable it is. I make the time for it.

Menachem Brodie:

And that not thinking part is so important. It’s what Charles Duhigg talks about in The Power of Habit, which is, if you’re going to go see a parole judge, you really want to see him first thing in the morning, because you’re going to have a better, not necessarily more favorable, but more fair ruling. And then there’s another spike up after lunch. And then that’s it, it’s all downhill.

And that’s something that I think a lot of runners don’t think about is the decision fatigue. Like you mentioned, you’re just coming back from an indoor track session. I notice, at least when I come back from my morning workouts, for that first 15 to 30 minutes, even with coffee and maybe a cookie here and there, still that brainpower isn’t quite there. But after the shower, getting dressed, it recharges and then drops back off.

How can the runners out there who have a very small time budget, so let’s say they have exactly an hour in the morning to do their running and they’re saying, “Jason’s got something here. I like what I’m reading on the blog. I like what he’s saying here on the podcast. I’m going to add some strength, but I’m going to do it in the evening.”

Is that a good idea to separate it? Or would you recommend… of course, it depends. But in general, would you recommend sacrificing some of your runtime to get the strength training in right after that run?

Jason Fitzgerald:

So in general, yes, I would much rather a runner take a mile off every run that they do during the week, if that means they’re going to do 10 minutes of strength training after each run. Because I think the injury prevention benefits of that kind of an approach far outweigh the missed mileage.

At most, what are you missing? Seven miles a week, which isn’t a huge amount of running. And if you’re really serious, you might be able to make that up here and there throughout the week. But that’s really going to help you stay healthy.

I’d rather a runner cut 2%, 3%, 5% of their weekly mileage in favor of doing more strength training, because I think that runner is going to be more consistent in the long term. So they might sacrifice short-term mileage, but they’re going to gain long-term mileage, because they don’t have to take a day or two off here and there for niggles. They don’t have to take a week or two off for major injuries, and they’re going to get all that training time back. And since running is such a cumulative sport, it builds on itself over weeks and months and years, I think this is a really good kind of an approach.

I also think it’s totally fine if you don’t have time in the morning, let’s give a specific example here, you have an hour in the morning to work out. Maybe you do a five or 10 minute dynamic warm up before you go running, then the whole rest of the hour is running. I think that’s okay, as long as you’re doing the cooldown later in the day.

If you go to work and maybe you go for a walk during your lunch hour, just 10 minutes to loosen up a little bit, the biggest priority is to simply do the strength work. I think the second priority is then to do it right after the run. So you’re helping the body cool down from the run itself.

But for most average runners, recreational runners, if you need to move it to the end of the day, to your lunch hour, I don’t think there’s any big problem with that. You’re still getting the benefits of strength and the benefits of moving through all those different ranges of motion, which are going to help with recovery as well.

I’m much, much more in favor of runners just getting it done, than in a really formal schedule. Because I think that rigidity is detrimental for exercise adherence. You’re just not going to be able to even do the strength work, if you’re being so strict that it has to be done immediately after your run.

Menachem Brodie:

A mile off, Jason? That’s a big commitment. And I know some runners out there might be… “What? He’s saying a mile off? That’s four miles, five miles off my weekly total.” It’s that important, huh?

Jason Fitzgerald:

I do think so. I do think so. Because you get benefits from the strength training. Like I said, I think a couple missed miles during the week is better than an entire week or two or more of missed training later down the road.


Okay, fasten your seat belts.

You’re listening to The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast with coach Menachem Brodie. Don’t forget to subscribe.

Menachem Brodie:

So then at what point would you say, okay, we’ve gotten X number of weeks or is it X number of sessions in with the post-run bodyweight exercises, at what point, Jason, would you look to add in some weighted training? Do you start with kettlebells and bands at home? Are you strictly a gym type of guy? Where do you lie when it comes to adding that resistance to the bodyweight exercises?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Yeah, that’s a great question. And I do think there should be progression in runners’ strength training. So like just a training plan progresses over time and gets more challenging, so should your strength training. And so if you’re totally new to strength work, you’ve never gotten to the gym before, you don’t know what a pushup is, then let’s just do the bodyweight stuff first.

I think it’s really good to start with that. And that does include, if you want to get a six pound medicine ball, or an exercise band, for example, the IT rehab routine, is a routine that I have that uses bands. But I consider that bodyweight, you’re just using a tiny bit of resistance, it’s really not that more extra challenging.

But once a runner gets fairly proficient with those kinds of exercises and routines, maybe that’s three months, maybe it’s two, maybe it’s six months. But I don’t think they really need to wait too long. If they’re comfortably running maybe let’s say 20 miles a week, or 25 miles a week, with a good amount of bodyweight strength training, I think they’re ready to get in the gym.

And of course, we’re not going to get in the gym and all of a sudden be doing clean and jerks or snatches at one and a half times our body weight. That is much more advanced. I think you need to build up to that.

But we can always get in the gym and do some weighted exercises. I think we should keep it simple at first. I think the first couple weeks of any runner’s introduction to strength training in the gym should be relatively simple. Let’s stick to the basics. The fundamental movements like squats and deadlifts, I think those are the big exercises that help runners the most. And from there, we can gradually add more complexity.

But I think there’s so many more similarities with running and weight training than there are differences. Just like our running should progress over time, so should our strength training. Just like our running is periodized, so should our strength training as well.

So there’s always is a certain spot where runners I think should be starting their strength training. But err on the side of caution, start with some bodyweight stuff. If that feels really easy, if you’re an athlete, and maybe you played a different sport earlier in life, and you’re able to pick up on it really quickly, I think you can get in the gym fairly soon.

Menachem Brodie:

And you mentioned at the beginning of our talk today, you were addicted to progress, like most runners are. I think that the message I’m hearing here is that the strength training, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure type of thing, where even though you’re addicted to going up in mileage every week, let’s say, if you actually take the time to work on things that don’t get worked in your sport, being an athlete who runs, this can help you not just deal with injuries, because the body is going to be stronger, but also prevent the injuries.

Is that a large selling point you use for your programs or for runners who are a little hesitant to start with this? Or is there another approach that you take to say, “Look, if you give a little bit here, you’re going to get this much a little bit down the road?”

Jason Fitzgerald:

Yeah, so selling injury prevention is very hard, because runners don’t want to… Anybody, nobody wants to prevent something from happening. It’s like buying fire insurance. It’s something that everyone does begrudgingly after years of inaction.

I think strength training for runners is similar, in that we may not experience any benefits in the first week or two or five. And that’s hard for us to grasp. But at the same time, when we think back to when we first started running, we probably didn’t experience too many major breakthroughs in performance in the first couple months of our running. We probably went from feeling miserable on most runs to feeling okay on most runs. So let’s just take a step back and recognize that it takes time.

And when I try to talk to runners about strength training, I try to talk about how strength training will enable you to do all the things you want to do with running. So if you want to run five, six marathons this year, and that’s an aggressive schedule, then strength training might be the way that enables you to actually do that.

If you’re someone who really, maybe you want that sub three marathon, or you’re trying to run a 4K in sub 18 minutes, or whatever it might be, strength training might be that new training strategy that will help you bust through that performance plateau that you might be experiencing. I like to sell it with a little bit of sizzle. Let’s talk about the performance breakthroughs you might have.

But then on the back end, we’re going to talk about, you’re getting those breakthroughs because you’re more economical, because you’ve missed less time with injury, because you’re stronger and can produce more power and force as an athlete. And those are the things that make you a lot faster in the long term.

Menachem Brodie:

And it’s funny, you used investing. And we always talk economy. I actually started with some of the younger interns to use the sports stuff to talk about financial stuff. Injury prevention is like investing. In your 20s, you’re going crazy and you spent all your money going out with friends or in some cases, coffee. I don’t know where that came from.

And then you hit your mid 30s and one of your friends is like, “Oh, yeah, remember, I was putting away 50 bucks a month? Well, now I got 400 grand in the bank.” So there’s that. It’s kind of the same thing.

Are you seeing that the runners that have invested this time with strength training are going out and saying, “Dude, remember how I was before I added strength training, decreased my miles a little bit and sacrificed that one mile off to replace with strength training like Jason said? I’ve seen some great results.” Have you seen that, they call it grassroots. I like to call it wildfire, because it starts a little bit and then it takes off.

Have you seen that compound effect take a hold and really grow quickly? Or has it been more of a slow kindling, like building a portfolio?

Jason Fitzgerald:

I think you’re right. I think I’ve seen a lot of runners report back on the benefits of their strength training. I think you’re right in talking about it as an investment.

I think about strength training as something like easy mileage or running drills. Those things are things that you should almost be doing all the time. Running drills are going to always reinforce good mechanics. Easy mileage is always a dollar in the bank, you’re keeping just investing a little bit in that 401k, which is your aerobic fitness that just gradually grows a little bit over time.

And strength training is the same way. You’re gradually getting a little bit stronger, gradually improving your economy over time. And you never really want to get too far away from running easy mileage or doing drills or doing strength training.

And one of the ways that we can, I think, really drill this point home is talking about strength training as movement training. We’re not just in the gym trying to put up as much weight as we can. In fact, I don’t even think the weight is even the most important aspect of our lifting. It’s the quality of the movement. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re training movements in the gym.

I was talking with a strength coach a while back, and he had a great way of putting it. He talked about how strength training is really movement training under resistance, or I’m sorry, I got that a little bit wrong, coordination training under resistance. So you’re becoming a more athletic, coordinated runner, and you’re doing it with weight.

So that when you don’t have a weight, when you’re just out running, or maybe you’re really tired at the end of a race or a long run, you’re going to be able to hold your form a lot better. And those are some of the really exciting aspects about strength training that, to me, are really exciting.

Because you’re just gradually improving how you move as a runner. I can think of no more exciting thing about running than just moving really gracefully. I think all of us have had that experience watching an elite race, whether it’s the marathon, and we’re watching these guys just run four 45 miles effortlessly, or you’re watching a 5K, and you’re seeing some of the best runners in the world sprint the last 452 seconds.

And a lot of that looks effortless. And as runners, as recreational runners, we should want some of that. We should want to look that good when we are trying to run so fast. And that coordination training under resistance, strength training, is one of the best ways to go about getting it.

Menachem Brodie:

And you mentioned that that spring along. Running really is bounding, if you read Verkhoshansky and Siff’s seminal piece, Supertraining, it really is just a bounding. And to have those tissue qualities, as you were saying, it doesn’t matter about how much you’re leg curling, it’s that movement that you’re going through.

So how do you tie in, or do you tie in a little bit of plyometrics, like basic jump rope or skipping or jumping? Do you add that in? And at what point would you look to make that shift in your programming?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Yeah, that’s another great question. I certainly do use some plyometrics in our strength programming. I’m not someone who uses a lot of plyometrics. I liken them to Elmer’s Glue, I dabble do you. And plyometrics are one of those exercises or drills that you don’t need to do a lot of it and you don’t need to do it super frequently.

So you don’t need to do it twice a week, every week for the entirety of your season, because it is quite stressful. And if you’re not used to plyometrics, it’s going to make you very, very sore, and the injury risk because of that is a lot higher.

So generally speaking, I’m hesitant about plyometrics, because of that injury risk. But if they’re properly structured and implemented in a program, I think they can be used really well. And the way that we do things is to use plyos as a finisher. You’re doing it after you do your main lifting and then we finish with just a little bit of plyometric work.

And this is just reinforcing some of those mechanics, working on some of the stretch reflex movements that the body goes through and helping the athlete work on using their legs like pogo sticks. I like to use this analogy that you’re absolutely right, running is just bounding, it’s a series of very coordinated one legged hops, and plyometrics are a really great way of training that.

And so as long as we’re doing it, we’re rationing our plyometric work, I think it could be used maybe in the last half of a training season, or the last third of a training season when the intensity is higher, and you really want to be focusing on getting primed to run really fast.

Menachem Brodie:

So you mentioned the end of the season there. I think that we’ve covered a lot of different stuff here. We talked about the upcoming 12 mile trail race that you have and your growth going from not running at all, to cross country, to then doing a number of marathons, to doing New York, trying to negative split the last five and then Boston and having that injury.

Tell us, how do you take all this information and look at the athletes who are coming to work with you individually or even for one of the plans on Strength Running, the pre-made plans, how do you build that training program? What are the major considerations that you are making and what’s something that the listeners should be thinking about that maybe they’re not?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Well, that’s actually a tough question. I’m a running coach. I’m not actually a strength coach. So the strength program we have at Strength Running was developed in partnership with a USA weightlifting national coach, who works up in Boulder, Colorado and coaches several elite runners and also collegiate and actually high school runners, very good high school runners. And so he developed the actual programming, and how the strength workouts are structured.

And the way that I help runners basically decide on whether this is something that they should be getting into is, let’s go through a little checklist of questions you can ask yourself. Number one, do you want to be lifting weights? I’m not really in the business of telling runners what they have to do with their training. I’m just more in the business of saying, “If you’re really interested in achieving your potential, here is a very good way of going about your training.” And so if you want to lift weights, if you want to get in the weight room twice a week and really commit to this, okay, that’s question number one.

Question number two is, do you have any experience with strength training or even more general exercise at a minimum, so that you’re ready to get in the weight room and do this kind of programming? And so I like to tell runners, let’s be comfortable running a very bare minimum of 20 miles a week and have some familiarity with bodyweight exercises. So if you can do a 20 minute core routine and run 20 miles a week, then I think you’re a great candidate for someone starting this kind of strength work.

And the other big part of this too is the fact that you’re not starting with Olympic lifts and plyometrics on day one. Just like you’re not starting a training plan for the 5K with a grueling track session and a 15 mile long run. You build up to that, you progress to that. And because the plan is periodized, you’re going to be working on different types of workouts at the appropriate time.

And we do the same thing with our strength programming. So we have four different phases throughout a 16 week block of time. And the first four weeks are just basic, general strength. We are just doing basic exercises, we’re doing about 10 reps, I believe. I’d have to double check that.

And we’re building not only our proficiency with the movements themselves, but general injury resilience and general strength. So that when we do start doing more complex things, we start doing some of the Olympic lifts, when we start doing some of the plyometric work, we’re stronger in our tissues and connective tissues are ready for that level of work.

So it’s a multifaceted approach with, number one, let’s make sure you actually want to do it, let’s make sure you’re physically prepared to do it. And let’s actually get someone like the strength coach that I hired to help me with this, to actually put together some programming that is good enough for an elite runner to follow, but is also approachable enough for any runner who wants to lift in a way that is very similar to how a professional runner would lift in the gym. They can also do it too.

Menachem Brodie:

And what about taking that and building that running training program to accompany that? How do you decide, and of course, it depends on the runner and their goals. But let’s say someone who… I personally don’t like recreational athlete, because I like to think be an athlete 24/7, it’s more of, you’re a professional in something else. But you are an athlete, when it comes to your sport kind of thing.

So someone’s an athlete who is a professional at something else 45 hours a week, but they’re looking to run a half marathon, regardless of their time. Let’s say they’ve been running for three years consistently. And they’d like to PR by 10 minutes, whatever their paces are.

How would you build a training program to include the strength to allow them to see enough running mileage and technique work, that they will get to that result, but not sacrifice so much and feel like, well, I’m spending so much time in the weight room, I’m not really running that much?

Jason Fitzgerald:

That’s great. I think in any kind of situation like this, we have to understand that any big jumps in performance can be aided by strength training, but there really needs to be a running component to your breakthrough. So you’re not going to run a 10 minute improvement in your half marathon if you run exactly the same kind of training you did a year ago for your previous PR, and then just add in some strength work.

You might PR and that’s very plausible. And in fact, I might say that that’s probably the case. But it’s not going to result in a huge breakthrough. You have to do something different with your running.

I like to say that you can’t plant potatoes and harvest carrots. You can’t do a bunch of cross training or strength training and expect to become a much better runner from it.

What strength training does is, number one, it allows you to train more. So because you’re a stronger athlete, because you’re more athletic, because you move better, you’re going to be able to handle higher mileage.

And the other thing that it helps you do is it helps you get more out of your training. So you might be run better workouts, you might just feel better on your runs because you’ve been practicing on good, efficient movement patterns and that’s really helping make your running more efficient. So it’s really going to help and aid your running.

But big improvements have to come from running. I would look at this runner and say, okay, your current PR is, let’s just say 150 in the half marathon, and you want to run 140. Let’s just say you want to break 140 to make it spicy.

What are we going to do? I’d look at what are your previous long runs? I think long runs are one of the best indicators for performance when it comes to adult runners, because I think most adult runners lack… The number one thing that is the factor that is lowering their performances is aerobic endurance or aerobic fitness.

So let’s get your long run up and let’s have you run that consistently. Maybe if you’re looking for a big performance improvement like this, we might not just run easy long runs, we might run some more structured, fast running in the long run. Maybe a fast finish long run, maybe we’ll do some repetitions at goal half marathon pace during the long run. It really just depends. I know we’re coming back to that phrase a lot.

And then I’d look at other factors like what kind of workouts were you doing? What was the progression of the workouts over time? What was your mileage levels like? And I always like to see, what’s the next thing that we can do? What is the next logical step, as University of Colorado cross country coach Mark Wetmore might say, what’s the next step that we’re going to take in your training?

And we can take several steps at once. We might add in strength training, but have you run higher mileage with more challenging long runs, and that might be enough. But for other runners, it might be, we’re going to maintain your mileage, but we’re going to tweak it a little bit, so that your long runs are longer, and your workouts are much more challenging, but we’re not really changing how much you’re running in total. That’s another way of going about it. And there are many ways of going about it. It really just depends on the athlete.

But I think first things first, you have to look at the athlete. What was their past training like? What are they doing now? What would they like to do in the future? How much time do we have between now and when their goal might be? And taking that next step.

Menachem Brodie:

And let’s take that, because you mentioned that you’ve just boiled it down there into the key components, what your history is, where you are. What would you say are the top, or not necessarily the top, but the most common mistakes that you see runners are making when it comes to looking to add in strength training into their regimen?

Jason Fitzgerald:

So there’s a couple big mistakes that runners make with their strength training. I think the number one mistake is just having a completely ad hoc, unsystematic, sporadic type of strength training approach. So maybe one week, you skip all your strength work. And then the next week, you’re going to a body pump class at the gym. And a couple days later, you attend a CrossFit workout of the day. And then the week after that, you just do a bunch of bodyweight stuff at home, and it’s just very all over the place.

I call this the grab bag approach to strength training. And it’s not progressive, it’s not periodized. And if you’re doing a lot of high intensity type lifting, like circuits, things that you might do at CrossFit, depending on where you might be in the training cycle, that might actually be detrimental to your performances. You don’t want to be doing brutal CrossFit AMRAP workouts five months before your marathon as you’re trying to build a base. There’s certainly ways to do that. But I’m always very hesitant about that. Just very high aerobic type of circuit strength training.

The other thing that runners do that I think is really common is, they have this line of thinking where, “I’m an endurance runner. I want a lot of endurance. When I go in the weight room, I’m going to lift for endurance.” So they lift high reps with low weight, they might do three sets of 15 reps. The weight is not too challenging. It’s like an easy run, I’m gaining all this endurance.

But that’s not the goal that runners should have in the weight room. We get plenty of an endurance stimulus when we’re out there running. When we’re in the gym, we really need to be focusing on strength and power. So let’s lift relatively heavy weight, let’s focus on lifts that force us to produce a lot of power, maybe even getting into some Olympic type of exercises.

And so really having a more systematic approach to your strength training and recognizing what we as runners need. We don’t need more endurance in the weight room. We need to practice these movements, we need to gain athleticism and really build strength and power that will help us get more out of our training.

But I think those are probably some of the big mistakes that runners make with their strength training. I think a lot of some of the other ones are following more of a bodybuilder or even a power lifter type of program. Though with that said, I would much rather have a runner follow a powerlifting program than almost anything else.

Menachem Brodie:

And that’s incredibly rare even nowadays, looking at, there was a piece… I’m not against it. It’s just an example that we tend to like the flashy things, but Runner’s World had a piece, The 10 Moves for Running. And none of them were really compound movements. A lot of them were Russian twists. Okay, cool, they had squats in there.

But it sounds like you’re saying that the big three or the fundamental five plus one, as I to call them, push, pull, squat, hinge press, rotary stability, should be at the center of your workout. Not lunges and hamstring curls and leg presses. We’re not in the weight room to get what we’re already getting so much of, but more to challenge our body in a different way. Did I get that correct?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Yeah, I think that’s very fair. I think it’s fair to look at strength training as movement preparation, rather than just mimicking what we’re doing when we’re running.

So, when you see runners in the gym, and they get those little one or two pound weights, and they’re doing the running arms, and like, “Oh, this is going to give me so much endurance in my arms [crosstalk 01:06:19] running.” That is doing absolutely nothing. You’re just making yourself more tired. Go hit the deadlift for a couple reps, you’d be much better off.

Menachem Brodie:

Well, Jason, for somebody who started off in middle school and high school as a basketball player and hated running, I’d say you’ve come quite a long way. And you’re at the front of the pack, man. Today’s been a real thrill to talk with you and hear about everything that you’ve experienced and your own story, and how you’ve built Strength Running over the last nine years to being…

I guess it’s the top one or two of running podcasts out there, if I’m not mistaken. Right?

Jason Fitzgerald:

That’s an interesting question. There’s a good number of what I will say competitors, though I don’t really consider them competitors, they’re just other friends who have podcasts in the space. But I don’t really know. Podcasting is interesting in that the download numbers and metrics and all that that we use for the podcasting industry, are not really very reliable.

So, besides very rough download numbers, which you then have to then aggregate over multiple platforms, but, yeah, I’d say I have one of the more popular podcasts, in addition to, I’ll have another with Lindsey Hein. Mario Fraioli has The Morning Shakeout Podcast, which I really love. There’s also so many other great podcasts. So I’ll give big shouts out to my other running podcasters, but thank you for that. It’s something I’ve worked on a lot over the years, both the podcast itself, and just getting the word out about strength training as well.

Menachem Brodie:

And you’ve done an incredible job. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show and reading the blog. I do want to do two little sneaky quick questions and see what little bit more we can get out of you here, if that’s all right.

Jason Fitzgerald:

Uh-oh. Let’s do it.

Menachem Brodie:

You mentioned in college that you were reading a lot of books about training. Do you have a favorite one in particular?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Oh, I absolutely do. My favorite book from college was Running with the Buffaloes, which if you’ve read it, you know why. It’s about a college cross country team. And this was the first running book that I read. And it went through, I believe it was the 1999 cross country team at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and this is the second shout-out I’m giving to them. I quoted Mark Wetmore earlier, the coach.

It’s just an amazing story of one team trying to chase after a national championship. Adam Goucher was the top runner on the team at the time. But it’s also just an incredibly human story. They lost one of their teammates in the middle of the season. I think he was hit by a car, if my memory serves me correctly.

And it just talks about how the team got through that and how running helped them through that. I just think it’s such an emotional story that really captured my attention and my imagination and really cemented my love for cross country. If I had to choose, I am just a cross country guy through and through.

Menachem Brodie:

Nice. And it sounded like you had another one there. You said your favorite book in college about running. Do you have another one or two that you’ve recently, or the last five or 10 years you’ve fallen in love with?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Oh, sure. Now, you’re really getting going. We could probably talk about running books for quite a while. But I think my favorite training book, we’re just going to dive into training theory and all of that, is probably Run Faster by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald. Brad was the coach of Dathan Ritzenhein. He’s coached a lot of national champions and Olympic caliber runners.

But he does a really good breakdown of his training philosophy, why he structures things the way that he does. He uses a slightly different periodization model than the typical model. I really like that book just for a general overview of training.

But then we look at, Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich is just such a wacky book about running. He’s a professor of nature or ecology or something similar. And it’s a memoir of his running as an ultra marathoner, and the studies and research that helped him become a better runner. And it’s not like he’s in the lab doing all these weird experiments on animals. It’s more like his study of animals out in nature, and how some of nature’s best endurance athletes can give us lessons on how we can become better runners.

Let me see, there’s probably a couple more that I can give you quick recommendations for, Which Comes First, Cardio Or Weights? is an amazing look at exercise science Q&A by Alex Hutchinson. He writes a regular column for Outside Online. I also really like Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry. Really good for injury prone athletes. So if that’s you, Anatomy for Runners is a really great book. So those are just some of them.

Man, The Men of Oregon, I think, is one of my other favorites. I might be getting the name wrong, which is ironic, since it’s one of my favorites. It’s Bowerman and the Men of Oregon. So those are some of my favorite running books, both on the training side of things, and then also on the story side of things, going through the human side of it, which I think is really captivating.

Menachem Brodie:

Well, there’s a couple there that I have to pick up. Some of those books are just fantastic resources. I think that the readers of Strength Running are, and the listeners, do not realize how lucky they are to have you sharing your experience.

Do you mind telling our listeners where at strengthrunning.com and online, they can find you and your content?

Jason Fitzgerald:

Oh, thanks. Yeah, strengthrunning.com is my home base. It’s where I house most of the resources that I’ve put together for runners. And in particular with strength training, strengthrunning.com/strength is where you can sign up for our injury, sorry, our strength training e-course. It’s an email series that walks through all the benefits of strength training, some mistakes that we talked about today, and some other example exercises, case studies, a lot more.

But then, of course, there’s the podcast, the Strength Running podcast, and Strength Running on YouTube. We’re putting out a lot more videos recently. So check out all of our resources. I try to make myself very accessible. So if anybody has questions on what we talked about, my email address is support@strengthrunning.com and I’m happy to help.

Menachem Brodie:

Ladies and gentlemen, Jason Fitzgerald, thank you so much for your time today and sharing. This was absolutely fantastic.

Jason Fitzgerald:

Oh, it was my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.


That’s it for this episode of The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast with world leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie. Don’t miss an episode. Hit that subscribe button and give us a review.

For more exclusive content, visit humanvortextraining.com or get the latest expert videos from coach Brodie on the HVT YouTube channel at HV Training. Until next time, remember to train smarter, not harder, because it is all about you.



Picture of Menachem Brodie

Menachem Brodie

Coaching since 2000, Menachem Brodie has been working with athletes in a number of settings, and a broad variety of sports.


Related Podcasts

Vern Gambetta

Episode 127- Vern Gambetta

Vern Gabetta has been coaching for over 50 years, and has penned more than 10 books on the subject. Over that time he has seen many fads and popular approaches come

Scroll to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

And get the 12-week Core Strength Training for Endurance Athletes Program- Coaches Edition, normally $149, FOR FREE!