The power of strength training

This time in 5 days I’ll have my feet up, wearing a huge smile as I revel in the achievement of finishing the Leeds Half in hopefully less than two hours.

I’m picturing this so it happens. I’ve gone from one injury to the next since the 28 February and not been able to blog as writing about it would’ve been too depressing for everyone. So what happened? Well I thought 5 hours of lunging backwards in tango bootcamp was a good idea. It wasn’t. I pulled a thigh muscle, or  the groin or both. The hilarious thing is, it probably wasn’t really the class, it was the fact the next morning (feeling sore) I did a 10 mile monster of a run up big hills. It was a leap year and I’d set myself a target of running 10 miles by the end of Feb so what was I supposed to do? The 29th was a gift of a day! Will I ever learn?

So I took a week off, picked up the miles and things felt a bit funny. I pulled my other thigh the next week and this time it was really sore. The genius I always mention, Daniel Wheelwright from Evolve Fitness,  said some wise words. My body wasn’t strong enough to keep up with the miles (and tango bootcamp) I was doing. If I didn’t stop I was going to have a serious injury. He suggested time off running and concentrating on strength training with some cardio on the bike and rower.

Lesson 1: Listen to your body. If I’d done that and rested a couple of days, I’d have missed my silly target yes, but I’d still have kept up my half marathon training.

Anyway strength training, I have a problem. I struggle with gyms. It’s the being indoors without fresh air, hearing heavy breathing, visible bodily fluids left on machines and shared showers. It’s an OCD thing. But I knew he was right so I put all that to one side. When I look back I used to always do a strength session once a week.

So once, sometimes twice a week I hit the gym for a strength session. It’s a mix of squats on the big vibrating machine, sickening TRX planks, thrusts and pikes (which I never get through I mean look at a pike!)


….. tyre box jumps, barbell squats and rope pull downs. Oh my god, what a difference it made! I took nearly four weeks off running and did just this. My first run back I ran 7.30 minute mile off road, not even thinking. I felt stronger, faster and happier.

Lesson 2: Do strength training once a week and follow it up with a foam roller sesh. I absolutely love my foam roller and tennis ball (gets right into those glute spots).

But I could only run 3 miles without being utterly shattered and it was coming up to April with the Leeds Half on the 8 May. In my head I thought, be sensible you can’t get to 13.1 miles in 6 weeks. I really really wanted too though.

Last Friday night I did 12.2 miles and it felt slow but strong. The week before I did 11 miles and it nearly killed me. I was in a right state at the end but I learned a lot from that run and ate a substantial amount of good food a few days before my run on Friday. What a difference it made.

Upping the mileage quite quickly has brought back ITB pain and a random knee problem though. A week of daily foam roller sessions has sorted the ITB and yesterday I had my kneecap lifted (I’m not even lying) to sort the knee pain. Proper vom. An old injury had stopped my knee cap moving properly so I was getting  real sharp pains on my actual knee cap. It’s moving nicely now and the pain has gone but my memory of those few minutes will stay with me forever. I feel faint just writing about it.

So, I’m actually doing the Leeds Half on Sunday. Whoop whoop! Actually, actually doing it. I’m over the fact it won’t be a PB, it might even be a PW (personal worst) but I’m doing it to prove I can. I’ve still got that competitive streak, I’ll give it my all and most importantly I’ll enjoy it.


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