I am a big advocate of maintaining a strong body in order to run faster and avoid running related injuries. Whether it’s a simple dumbbell routine or body-weight exercises using the TRX – maintaining a baseline level of muscular strength is an essential supplement to any runners training regimen.
When I first heard about Steve Speirs through Pete Larson over at Runblogger, I instantly felt a connection with him. Not only is he Welsh like my brother-in-law, he believes that being stronger can make you a better runner.
Steve Speirs is a very, very good runner (2:45:22 at the 2011 Boston Marathon), the author of “7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups” and the creator of onehundredpushups.com. He also maintains a great blog entitled, Run Bulldog Run – be sure to check it out.
Steve provided us with a little background on himself and how “7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups” came to be.
Healthynomics would like to thank Steve for his time!
Healthynomics: You’re a busy guy! How do you balance your career and family life while still managing to train and compete?
Steve Speirs: I’m fortunate in that I have a very supportive family. Also, the past couple of years I’ve tended not to follow a strict training plan, and been more flexible in my training. The fact that I’m now able to work from home has also been a major factor in my ability to train at “odd” hours of the day.
It’s not uncommon for me to run a few easy miles before starting work, and then popping out during lunch or after work for a more quality workout. I’m lucky that family, work and fitness all slot nicely together at the moment, and try to make the most of my current situation.
HN: Do you have any mentors or particular athletes that you admire?
Steve Speirs: My favorite athlete is the former world marathon record holder (and still UK marathon record holder), Steve Jones – a regular working class man from Wales, but one of the gutsiest runners you can imagine. I guess his passionate will to win made a big impression on me as a teenager, and still influences my “never say never” attitude in training and at the races.
Here is a YouTube link of one of my favourite Steve Jones races: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
HN: Can you tell us how the one hundred push ups idea started?
Steve Speirs: Bit of a long story, but I first read about a similar exercise plan on a friend-in-the-UK’s blog in June 2007. At the time, I was looking for a simple strength program to compliment a fall marathon schedule I was following, did some research and decided to come up with a fairly basic, progressive plan with the end result of being able to do one hundred consecutive push ups.
In the months following the launch of hundredpushups.com I received many requests for similar programs – sit-ups and squats initially, but then pull-ups, dips and lunges later on. I think the main attraction is the simplicity of the challenges and the fact that you can follow the programs pretty much anywhere without any specialist equipment is an added bonus.
HN: How realistic is it to be able to complete one hundred consecutive pushups in seven weeks?
Steve Speirs: Naturally there are many factors which can influence the outcome, but judging by some of the mail in my inbox, the success rate seems to be reasonably high. I know of a few people who completed the challenge in less than a month, but on the flip side there are folks who have taken many months to reach the magic hundred.
My personal opinion is that it’s more important to perform push-ups two or three times a week on a regular basis, than to go hell for leather for a few weeks and getting burned out. It may sound counter productive, but I usually advise people struggling with the challenge to focus more on regular workouts than on the “100 push-ups” outlined on the web site. At the end of the day, the less stress approach is usually more enjoyable and yields better results anyway.
HN: How has increased strength from your programs helped you as a runner?
Here’s Link to interesting blog post related to the 100 Push Ups, 200 Sit Ups and 200 Squats programs: http://predawnrunner.com/2011/
HN: Any tips for runners to avoid running related injuries?
Steve Speirs: Well, there’s the good old 10% rule for starters (don’t increase weekly training mileage by more than 10 percent per week).
Add new shoes to your current rotation well before the current ones are ready to be retired. Run your easy runs easy, and try not to get sucked into the “faster is better” mentality – there’s a time and a place for both quality and recovery runs.
HN: What are your favourite running training tools?
HN: Any favourite running websites?
Steve Speirs: No real favourites to be honest. I typically just do a Google search when I’m looking for specific information, and browse from site to site until I find what I’m looking for.
HN: What are your favourite races?
Steve Speirs: Tricky to answer, but I’d probably plump for the 2011 Boston Marathon (2:45:22 PR), 2011 24-HR Adventure Trail Race (106.25 miles and an unexpected 1st place) and the 2009 Cayman Islands Marathon (winning a marathon was such a special moment).
Many other favourites, but these are probably my top three.