I can now answer the question: ‘Do you even lift bro?’ in the affirmative!
I finally took the scary steps towards the back of my gym where all the hench dudes lift ridiculously heavy weights and started out on my ultra distance strength and conditioning plan. The weights I’m pushing were so much less than the guys around me that at first I felt a little ridiculous but my coach Earl put my mind at rest and got me to think about training specificity – the guys around me were either lifting for power or lifting for vanity whereas I’m lifting to strengthen my glutes, hamstrings and calf muscles to help me run faster up and down hills during ultramarathons! With the lifting comes core strengthen which will only serve to improve my endurance and efficiency in due course.
On my first foray into real weight and gym based strength and conditioning I’m focusing on my back and my legs. I really want to eliminate the pain in my lower back and shoulders that sometimes comes from racing and training over long distances and, with regard to my legs, I’m trying to prepare them for races with more vertical gain and more technical downhills as I begin to expand my horizon in the ultra world!
Earl has suggested I spend one day on legs and another on back for the time being – it’s best to isolate and focus on one area per session so that’s what I’m going to do! Wednesdays are now S&C days just like Tuesdays have now become Pilates days but it’s likely I’ll fit in some reduced set S&C before Pilates and before my Thursday treadmill sessions. I’m still finding it strange that for some reason this year feels like the year to focus on my body, my flexibility and my strength as opposed to pretty much just running and lining up the start of races aiming to give it my all and then hope for the best! It’s early days but it’s coming together and I’m excited at the changes I’m feeling after just 4 weeks of Pilates and now I’m even more excited about seeing and feeling the changes after 4 weeks of focused and serious S&C training passes.
I’ll admit that I was shocked as to how weak my legs felt going through my initial sets today – as I runner I expected my legs to be much stronger and to breeze through 12 reps with no problem but I actually had to reduce from 6kg to 3kg on the leg press to make it manageable and feasible! I had the same shock about my core strength when it came to my first few Pilates lessons and I sometimes still wonder how it is that with all my endurance training through running and swimming over the past 4 years I am so weak in these areas. When it came bicep twists, lower back extensions and the lat workouts I felt great, I felt strong and I felt like I could happily increase the weight which I will be doing next time I find myself in the gym (tomorrow or Friday)! I cannot wait to start feeling the strength improve in my legs just as much as I can’t wait to see the tone and conditioning of my body improve as the weeks go by and only time and races will tell how this is going to affect my speed, endurance and strength out on the trails and roads!
Exciting times my friends, exciting times are ahead!
Peace Out x