Running the London marathon has been on my bucket list for a long time, yet every time I went out running I have to admit I hated it. I’d download the Couch to 5k app and would enjoy Michael Johnson’s voice telling me I was doing well but each step felt blooming hard. But no pain, no gain right? Year after year you’d sporadically find me going for a run, I even did a half marathon before having my kids, yet comfortably the most I would run would be about 2 miles.
The Dream Vs Reality
Every day I would have this inner battle in my head where I’d be angry with myself for letting another day pass without going for a run. In my head I’d tell myself I could smash an online workout but my heart was never in it. I had no motivation whatsoever to go for a run most days, come rain or shine. It felt as if everyone around me was running. I wanted to join in, I wanted to wear the Sweaty Betty leggings and glow and feel virtuous from smashing 10k on a Sunday. Yet somehow I never transcended to that place of running and loving the pavement pounding.
The marathon goal I realised was because I liked the thought of achieving something truly amazing. Yet I’d be internally conflicted as I’d really want to run but never, ever found it enjoyable. Maybe I should have persevered and perhaps a break through nirvana moment may have occured ? Instead I turned to weight training. At school I’d played on the school hockey and netball teams and I loved shows like ‘Strong’ on Netflix. Tikitok was also filling my feed with clips of women hitting the gym and transforming themselves through strength training. I loved seeing normal looking women flipping tractor tyres and lifting weights, toning up and getting strong.
Knowing I needed motivation I asked for recommendations for good weights IG accounts to follow and received quite a few, as well as some good PT suggestions. I went to my first session and loved it and I’ve felt the same consistently at each session since. You’ll probably know the saying, ‘no one regrets a workout’. It’s true.
There are two things for me with exercise that I find pretty key, controlling my breathing and my mind. If I’m having a bad day or in low mood then my weights are harder to lift. A little self belief and a surge of positivity and those barbells can shoot up over my head, It was that negative voice that hampered my running and told me to walk, not run, yet with weights I hear it yelling in my ear ‘Come on you’ve got this‘.
I’ve been weight training with a PT for nine weeks now and I honestly say its been transformative for me. Whilst my body is slowly changing, it’s the positive mental feeling of taking control of my aging that I welcome. Losing muscle mass and hedging towards peri-menopause my desire to remain healthy is huge. By lifting weights I’m building lean muscle. Unlike men, women typically don’t bulk up or gain size from weights, this is due to the levels of testosterone we have compared to men. I’m pleased that the exercise I’m doing is also increasing my bone density. This coupled with a decent intake of calcium is helping me fight off osteoporosis later down the line.
Sure it’s early days but you have to start somewhere and find something you enjoy. Seven weeks in and Joe my PT decided to weigh me and compare this to my starting weight. Firstly to be clear, my weight on the scales doesn’t bother me too much but it would be a benefit to drop a good half a stone – I’ve put on double that in the past 10 years. Hopping off the scales Joe shared I’d put on 4Ibs. I’m ok with that, its likely to be muscle – not fat and he’d always told me this was likely to happen. Although my intake of fig rolls probably doesn’t help…….
Nine months ago I had an in depth BUPA medical. I was surprised after doing a basic movement the Physician could see that my core wasn’t as strong as it should be for a woman my age. Yes, I’ve had twins by cesarean but had always kidded myself I was in reasonable shape. The reality of my fitness only being average has also been a real motivator to exercise. I want a strong core. I’ve made the gym trips a twice weekly thing. Once I’m in to more of a routine with work I’m going to try and fit in a swim in the week too.
If you’re interested in strength training I’d encourage you to have at least one session with a PT. They’ll be able to show you how to lift properly, you want to avoid injury and understand what you’re doing. Start with a light weight and work on lifting in three sets of 10. Slowly you can incrementally increase how much you are lifting. Focus on your form rather than the heaviness of the weight.
I’m loving it and it has the added bonus that I get to wear my running shoes which had been gathering dust in the shoe cupboard!