I’ve been thinking lately about “strength.” To begin with, I am fighting myself on starting a strength training routine. My head knows that adding strength training – just two or three brief sessions a week – will boost my metabolism, enhance my running performance, and help prevent injury. I know this, yet I don’t do it. Even tonight – I went to the gym to knock out my four miles on the treadmill, but I bypassed the weights and went home under the multi-pronged excuse of “I’m tired-I’m hungry-I had a tough day-I don’t feel like it-my run is enough for today.”
I’ve been thinking about this resistance to resistance training. It too is multi-pronged, but most of it stems from my perfectionist character traits. First, I’m afraid of looking silly. I moved into my condo eight months ago (and therefore to a new LA Fitness), yet I haven’t gotten entirely comfortable with the layout of my “new” gym. Gym machines intimidate me.
True story: when I was fighting through my stress fracture injury, my doctor told me to swim and to ride the stationary bike while I was on my running hiatus. I have never ridden a stationary bike in my life, but I decided to give it a try. I sat down on the bike one day and pushed the “start” button. Nothing happened. So I did it again. Still nothing. I started punching away at multiple buttons while simultaneously taking sideways glances at my neighbors to see how they were doing it and trying to look like I actually knew what I was doing. I somehow finally realized that I needed to start turning the pedals to begin the workout. I thought the bike would just light up and go – like when you push “quick start” on the treadmill.
So – I’m not entirely machine-savvy/mechanically inclined. As anyone in my family will tell you. This is not limited to workout equipment.
The second part of my resistance is that I want to do it “right” but I don’t know what “right” is. There are so many different strength training workouts out there. How do I know which one is the right one for me? How do I balance it with my running, not go overboard, and make sure I have time for it all?
Aside from strength training, I’ve also been thinking about other variations on strength and running. Or, more specifically, how running can be a great source of strength. When I started running a few years ago, it awakened a strength in me I never knew I had (but that, of course, I had all along). There is something so amazing about it. I started out with almost nothing. Very little physical endurance to speak of, let alone emotional strength. Running a mile without stopping was a challenge. But before too long, I was running two miles, then three. And then gradually over the days, weeks, months, I built up to distances that I never thought were possible for me – 6, 8, 10, 12, 14. Not only were they possible, but they became almost easy. And that empowered me. It made me realize that I can take that same approach – building up little by little, taking it step by step – to almost anything in my life. That I am capable. And suddenly, “starting over” in my life didn’t seem quite so daunting anymore.
So, I guess I need to take that same “step by step” approach with strength training. Maybe awareness is the first step toward action. So I ask any of my running friends who are reading this to share tips/recommended (basic) strength training routines with me. But I ask you – please keep in mind my fear of machines. I prefer free weights and using my own body resistance. Mostly so I don’t repeat embarrassing moments like the stationary bike experiment.
Miles today: 4 (plus 2 on Sunday, along with about 500 yds in the pool); total miles for the year: 28.22. (And just a side note: thank you to everyone who has been reading so far and sharing such encouraging comments here, on my Facebook page, and via e-mail. I truly appreciate it!)