Workout Revival: Strength training for the Broad Street Run

Ali Jackson was a promising equestrian athlete, preparing to compete in show jumping in the Olympics before emergency surgery was preformed to save her leg from being amputated.

“Doctors told me I’d be lucky to walk again,” she recalls. 

Well, she’s doing a little more than walking now.

Never Give Up Training just turned two, the facility that Ali is founder, owner and head trainer of. The gym opened to bridge the fitness gap she felt was evident in Manayunk.  Never Give Up features classes including bootcamp, TRX, HIIT, kettlebell, barre, Bodypump and Ali’s personal favorite 50/50, a class which dedicates half of its allotted time to cardio and the other half to strength training.  

After retiring from equestrian, she decided she wanted to try her hand at a triathlon and began training with her brother. Ali placed third in her inaugural event and was instantly hooked.

Now her year-round training is dedicated to Ironman competitions. She prefers fully body movements that translate easily to everyday life. She believes an individual should be strong from head to toe, and it’s something she tries to accomplish with all her clients.

“To be successful with personal training, and to really speak to people and change lives, it’s the experience that matters,” she said. “It’s not just about the books. It’s not just about science. You have to get the mentality and what drives people.” 

Speaking from experience as an Ironman competitor that sees her complete a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run all in the same day, she has some advice for people training for the Broad Street Run and it doesn’t involve just pounding the pavement. Get ready to hit the weights.

Strength training helps give runners a stronger core and can actually make you faster. It also helps with injury prevention.

“Mixing it up is crucial,” she said of why runners should incorporate strength training into their routine. “Runners tend to go on long runs, and then start strength training and it’s just very blah. I want them feeling a difference on their runs because of that workout.”

She recommends taking a day off between your strength training and running regimen. When you’re scheduled to hit the gym, try to look forward to it as a day off from running.

But should runners modify the amount of miles they’re logging per week to accommodate strength training? Or can it just be added to their normal race training?

“If you’re just trying to complete the distance, then yes, cut back a little bit on the strength training because your muscles will just be too tired. If you’re looking for speed, and you’re trying to do a marathon for example, than it’s in addition because you want your muscles to get used to that type of work,” she said.

A huge part of any successful training program is rest and recovery.

“The most important thing for any runners in general is to listen to your body.” 

Without further ado, Ali explains her strength training workout for Broad Street runners:

Here is a basic strength training routine I recommend to the basic runner training for a race like the Broad Street Run.

1) Forearm plank: 30-45 second hold, repeat 3 to 5 times 

2) Squat with overhead kettlebell press: (12-15 reps), repeat 2- 3 times

  • With knees shoulder width apart, hold a kettlebell at chest level. (Start with 8-12 pounds and increase from there.) Squat down keeping feet pointed forward with chest open and shoulders back. Drive up through the heels, exhaling on the way up, keep your core muscles tight as you press the kettlebell overhead. Pull the kettlebell back down to your chest while returning into the depth of a squat. Repeat. 

3) TRX jack knife/knees to chest: 10-12 reps, repeat 2-3 times

  • Putting your feet in a TRX Suspension, set up in a straight-arm plank with your back flat, bring your knees to your chest and return into a straight position. Make sure to keep your shoulders above your wrists during the movement. Your hips will rise a little. Concentrate on slow, controlled motions as you pull forward and push back.

4) Deadlifts: 10-12 reps, 2 times (Advanced option: single-leg deadlift)

  • Hold free weights or a barbell slightly in front of your body, bend your knees and hinge forward at the waist, lowering the weights and keeping them close to your legs until you reach just below your knees. Engage your hamstrings and glutes with the legs planted on the ground to drive and rise up back to standing position.

5) Superman: 20-30 second hold, 3-4 times (Advanced option: raise one arm and one leg, then switch while alternating sides)

  • Lie face down on the ground raising both arms off the ground with your thumbs up towards the sky, while at the same time raising your legs up off the ground, holding this position for 20-30 seconds.

Most of the time, I like to add cardio segments in between sets, such as box jumps, kettlebell Swings, treadmill incline runs or sprints to enhance muscular endurance. Again, all of this is client dependent and fitness level dependent.

At the end of the workout make sure to do some dynamic stretching followed by more specific static stretching based on your personal needs and then, FOAM ROLLING!

If you have any questions or comments, you can always reach Ali at Info@NeverGiveUpTraining.com.


Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.