Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Strong Body, Strong Mind

I've said it here before and I'll say it again....

I hate strength training.

Ummmm....unless I got to strength train with this guy (do y'all know who it is?), then it might be okay.  Sorry, HIM.

Unlike my co-host of this blog (AKA, "Him"), I get absolutely no pleasure from going to the gym and pushing my muscles to exhaustion.  I'll admit it, I'm a cry baby....IT HURTS!!!  Therefore, strength training is always the first thing to go when my run/bike/swim schedule gets too busy.  I did an Ironman last year on only 9 hours of strength training for the entire year!  And ask my personal trainer at the work gym how many times I've cancelled on him in the past year.....on second thought, don't, it's pretty embarrassing.

HOWEVER, I am also completely aware of the benefits of strength training.  It helps prevent injury (pretty important for this injury-prone girl) and will ultimately help your performance as you get stronger and more powerful.  All good stuff, right?  Yes, but I still hate strength training.

So, when I signed up for a second Ironman I committed to getting my body as strong as possible in order to endure another year of high volume training.  I'm tired of being on the edge of injury and if I'm going to do this, I want to do it right.  So, for the past month I have been strength training....for real.  I've been seeing my personal trainer once a week and have also been doing strength as part of our pre-season training classes with Well Fit.  And guess what?

I'm starting to see a difference!  I see a huge difference in how my body looks and feels.  And I'm definitely starting to see gains in my run/bike/swim performance already.  But most importantly, my mind has gotten stronger as well.  I no longer dread my strength workouts because I am mentally strong enough to shut down the negative thoughts and just get through them.  I'm hoping this new mental strength will transfer to race day as well.

For any of you out there who hate strength training as much as I do (hello? anyone out there?), here are a few tips that have helped change my mindset about strength training:

1.  Hire an expert: Hiring a personal trainer gives you someone to be accountable to, and more importantly to really PUSH you beyond your limits.  I can't say enough about the love/hate relationship I have with my trainer.  I absolutely HATE him during the session, but LOVE the results he is pushing me to get.  Although trainers can be expensive, even 30 minutes once a week can do wonders for getting you on the right track!
2. Shorten your sessions: Speaking of 30 minutes, not all strength sessions need to be an hour long.  If you are just getting started, or returning after some time off, an hour can seem daunting AND leave you hurting for days.  Shoot for at least 30 minutes once a week and then supplement with 10-20 minutes two or three other days.  It's consistency that counts!
3. Stick with it!: Speaking from experience, it is SO easy to get frustrated with strength training if you are weak and somewhat out of shape.  It's no fun and you just want to quit.  So commit to stick with it for at least 30 days.  I'll bet at the end of that time you'll love the results so much that you'll stick with it for a lifetime!  I think this is exactly what has happened to me (finally!).

Does anyone have any other tips for making strength training more fun or a regular part of your fitness routine?  I'd love to hear them!

Happy training!


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