Strength Training for Runners: Turns out They’re onto Something!

Okay, so I think it’s probably safe to say that most people reading this are runners.  That’s how I got into this blogging thing; that’s most of the blogs I follow; and I’m pretty sure most of my followers are in a pretty similar boat.  So how many times have we heard, how many articles have we read, how much have we been preached to about how strength training for runners is SO IMPORTANT?  Well… as it turns out?  They’re right!

Here’s the deal.  I started running at 29.  It burned calories.  I lost fat.  It was great!  That was all I did.  I knew that my monogamous relationship with running was on borrowed time.  I knew eventually I would have to cheat on running with some sort of strength training, but I was in denial that the time had actually come.  But man, when you see pictures of yourself and cringe, it’s hard to hang onto that denial.

If you’ll remember, I was out with an injury for SEVERAL months last spring.  I was already getting kind of soft just BECAUSE of my lack of strength training and the natural shit that happens to a girl in her mid-30s.  Then when you suffer a chronic injury that sidelines you for months, that only compounds the problem.  Still I wasn’t terribly concerned because I thought, “Meh, it’ll come back off when I can start running again.”  Only then I started running again, and that shit wasn’t going anywhere.  By the late summer of 2015 I weighed more than I have weighed since I was an obese teenager.  Something had to give.  I had to make changes.  A friend of mine whom I’d met through dog rescue was also a Beachbody coach, and because I loathe a gym atmosphere, I opted to go through her for an at-home strength-based workout program.  I opted for the 21 Day Fix Extreme challenge pack with guarded expectations, but I took my “before” photos, bought a couple of sets of dumbbells, and waited for my DVDs and Shakeology to arrive.  As embarrassing as they are, in the interest of complete transparency and keeping it real, here they are.

My God.  I knew I’d put on a few, but I didn’t realize I looked like THAT from behind.  Why hadn’t someone told me?!  It was seeing these photos that made me want to go all in, and I did just that.  I followed the vegan version of the meal plan, and for 30 minutes a day for 21 days I did resistance training, and for the first time ever I FREAKING LOVED IT.  In three weeks I lost 4.4 pounds, an inch and a half off my waist, and an inch and a quarter off my hips.

Also in that three weeks, I fell in love with everything I learned about the company.  I knew that I was in this for the long haul, and I signed on as a coach.  I knew that I would be continuing to use the products (I LOOOOOOOVED the Shakeology), and with coaches receiving an automatic 25% discount, it was a no-brainer.  And aside from that, I wanted to be able to share what was shared with me.  Since I made the decision to be a coach, I knew I wanted to be the best one that I could be and wanted as much first-hand knowledge of the products as I could get, so as much as I loved the 21DFX, I decided to start making my way through different programs so that I knew what they were all about and could help people choose the program that was right for them based on their goals.

My next one was PiYo.  Guys, this is a recovering injured runner’s DREAM.  This program requires NO weights or equipment, and there is NO jumping and NO high impact moves.  It let me build my fitness level and gradually increase my running mileage at the same time without putting too much stress on my hip too soon.  I was hesitant about even trying this one given my hatred of Yoga, but this is a blend of Yoga and Pilates and it keeps you moving and DEFINITELY gives you a good workout.  I saw amazing changes and felt so much stronger in my core, shoulders, and butt thanks to this program.  I came out of it much stronger, leaner, and at a weight I had been chasing for a loooong time.  I was finally under 130 for the first time since my early 20s!

After PiYo, I was well into the hectic Christmas season and didn’t fully commit to a program again until after the first of the year when I started The Master’s Hammer & Chisel.  I was so excited to start this one.  It was a brand new release and I was already seeing the amazing results that people were getting with this program.  I’ve never been one to fully trust the “before and after” photos you see on TV or on social media, but when I’m seeing people I KNOW using the program transform before my very eyes, that doubt factor is removed.  Hammer & Chisel definitely lived up to its hype and then some.  I had some pretty awesome gains in those 56 days.

H&C after

I mean seriously, lets look at those quads and that back for a second, shall we?!  haha!  And feel free at this point to scroll back up to the top and see those very first before photos again for a quick comparison.  Pretty big change, huh?

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am SO EFFING PROUD of myself for how far I’ve come these last six months.  And I’m not stopping here.  I’m now in my 3rd week of P90X (yep, decided to go retro and do an older program that’s been around a while!) and I’m continuing to see changes and feel stronger by the day.

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A couple of action shots from P90X Kenpo

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I’d like to think that being so much stronger overall will benefit my race times too, but with warmer temps coming, I guess it’ll still be a few months before I can test that theory out.  haha  It’ll be interesting!  I do have another half coming up in two weeks, but I’ve been focusing on running slow, in a fat-burning zone for so long that I kind of doubt I have any long distance speed anywhere in me.  I did start doing 400s again a couple of weeks ago because there’s a 10K coming up in May that I’d kind of like to do and not completely suck at.  The 400s went surprisingly well with every one of them being below an 8 min/mile pace.  When I was doing speed work before, it was rare to ever have ONE lap under 2 min, but this week they ALL were, the fastest at a 7:28 pace!

So we will just see how the 10K goes!  I’d love to PR the distance, but I am not going to be upset if I don’t.  My main reason for ever starting to run was for fun, for health, to have something for ME, and, yeah I admit it, for vanity, and I’m getting all of those through my combo of slow running and strength training now, so I’ll be a happy girl whatever the clock says at the finish line.

***if you have any questions about these or any other Beachbody programs or Shakeology, please feel free to reach out to me!  I’d be honored to help any way that I can.

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Where do I even begin?

And just like that **SNAP!**, in the blink of an eye, seven months has gone by.  My last post was August 16, 2015.  What the hell?  I hadn’t PLANNED on a hiatus.  I had no reason for one…I wasn’t burned out.  I wasn’t any more busy than usual.  I wasn’t off somewhere sulking in a corner.  I don’t know WHAT happened, really.  But I’ve missed it!  For weeks I’ve been meaning to get back here and dust the cobwebs off this old thing.  I’ve even come to the page a couple of times and asked myself the title of this post.  I sat here with my fingers hovering over the home row, ready to pound out a post and drew a big, fat blank.  I did it just now, too, but this time I just decided to roll with it.  I feel like so much has happened in the last seven months, but to keep this one post from getting insanely long, I’ll do you a solid and break them down into shorter posts.   Haha  Maybe one for each topic.  But in short, since I talked to you last I have…

  • Run six half-marathons in four new states.  If things had gone according to plan, I actually would have been in the car traveling to the next one right this very moment, but due to some conflicts I decided to forego this one.  My next one will be the Garmin Marathon in Olathe, Kansas on 4/16.  (*currently accepting applications for suitable travel partners  haha)
  • Gotten very serious about cross- and strength-training.  I’ve been saying for EVER that I knew I needed to do it, but I finally did it.  And now I kick myself every day for not doing it years ago.  I have never felt better or stronger, and if you’ll allow me a moment of vanity, I’ll admit that I don’t think I’ve ever looked better either.
  • Taken an awesome vacation to Florida.  We go to the panhandle of Florida as sort of a farewell-to-summer getaway almost every year, but last year we mixed it up a bit and went to South Florida where epic shit ensued.
  • Got a new tattoo.
  • Carried out a stakeout and trap, resulting in the newest addition to our family.  I now have a new feline brother.
  • Nursed my girl Bella through her third (yes, THIRD) knee surgery.  She’s three and a half weeks post ACL repair now, after already having undergone two surgeries in the past for a torn ACL and meniscus in the OTHER hind leg.

And well I guess that’s about it!  haha  It sure seemed like more before I started writing it out.  That’ll give me a starting place for posting anyway!  Also, when I logged into Blogger, I had approximately 4 million unread posts.  There’s no way I could make my way through all of them, so I cringed and hit the “Mark All as Read” button.  So if I’ve missed any huge news on YOUR blog, please catch me up!!!!!

Updates on Running and Other Related Stuffs

  • I’m really working on getting my mileage back up.  Last week I ran 13 miles Monday, 6 on Wednesday, 8 Saturday, and 6 Sunday for a total of 33 miles.  Which is my highest weekly mileage in… well shit I don’t even know how long!  It’s been a LONG time.  As of right now I’m 18.7 miles away from hitting 100 miles for January.  First time hitting that number since December 2012!
  • I know from past experience that when my mileage gets this high I had better start doing some cross-training or my ass will be injured and sidelined.  So in the last week I’ve dusted off the ol’ spin bike and started doing the Jillian Michaels Shred workouts.  It still amazes me how little you use your glutes while running.  GAAAHHHAH my ass is sore!

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  • I have ulterior motives for adding in the extra workouts too.  I gotta shed some fat, y’all.  I was really working on getting my body fat percentage down early last summer and then things got crazy when D’s mom went from battling cancer to being terminal.  I put on several pounds by the time she passed away.  I’ve taken them back off for the most part, but now I need to pick up where I left off last summer.  It was mostly out of sheer vanity until Tiina stole this from Runners World and posted it on her blog a few days ago.

Running-weight

I WANT THOSE TWO MINUTES!!!!

  • To aid with this, I’ve started food journaling again.  I’m using MyFitnessPal.  I fucking hate food journaling, but it’s effective.
  • I’ve been curious for a while now, and I’ve finally taken the plunge.  I ordered some Hokas.  I’ve strayed from my Brooks Ghosts a few times and have always come crawling back, but I haven’t talked to a single person who didn’t like them, so I’m giving them a chance.
  • I am starting to form a real game plan toward completing a half marathon in every state.  It’s stressing me out.  I’m not a patient person, so the fact that I haven’t registered for 43 half-marathons over the next 6 months is a total win.  I’ve got a few picked out between now and June and have been researching potential contenders for several states, but it’s killing me that I can’t do them all RIGHTFUCKINGNOW!
  • I’ve always thought that people that run full marathons “for fun” were a little bit unhinged, but I think I’m becoming those people.  There’s a girl here in town that’s running a local marathon in March and I’ve kind of committed to running her remaining long runs with her.  She asked me recently if I was gonna run the marathon.  I guess it’d kinda be silly NOT to, right?  It’s super tiny and won’t sell out or anything, so I won’t register in advance, but there’s a very good possibility that I’ll be running a marathon “for fun” in less than two months.