…..and the amazing women who helped me find it!
We’re coming towards the end of the year and it’s the traditional time for reflection, before looking ahead to the New Year. When I look back on 2014 I’ll remember it as the year that I ran my second marathon. I’ll also remember it as the year where I was injured for what felt like a really long time both in the run up to, during and after the marathon. The year that, looking back, I really shouldn’t have run a marathon at all.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets – I had the runners golden ticket – a London Marathon ballot place. Having deferred from 2013 I had to run in 2014 or lose my place. Injured or not – I was going to make it around that course. And make it around I did in a huge personal best time.
The fact that I was able to complete the second half of the race stronger than the first, smiling and enjoying myself as most other runners flagged, I credit entirely to my strength training. Perhaps more than the marathon itself I think I’ll remember 2014 as the year when I fell head over heels with strength training and started to realise just what my body might be capable of.
Back in January I attended the four week Ladies Who Lift course run by Strength Ambassadors. At that course, I met two women who would come to play a big part in my strength training during the year, Sally Moss and Jess Wolny.
Over the course of four weeks, Sally (bottom right) and Jess (to the left of Sally) taught me how to perform the main big lifts safely and with confidence. I’d previously done a lot of work with dumbbells but I’d never used a barbell to squat or bench press. I loved the course and wanted more, but was also mindful of the fact that I was marathon training and needed to focus on that.
So following the course I signed up with Sally for some one-to-one sessions focussed entirely on building strength for marathon running. We met twice a week and did countless deadlifts, overhead squats, pull ups, lunges and hip raises all aimed at making me strong for the marathon. The sessions were intense and hard work but they did their job!
One of the things that Sally introduced me to was the concept of throwing the barbell around – my first taste of the Olympic Lifts. This was quite daunting, definitely tougher mentally than physically to begin with. But with Sally’s encouragement I got the hang of it and really enjoyed it – there’s something pretty cool about powering the bar up over your head! Later in the year I went along to a beginners taster session that Sally held, which I loved and, thanks to Santa, am now signed up for the four week beginners course in the New Year. Can’t wait.
After I’d recovered from the marathon I realised that I was missing the barbell work and decided to contact Jess about some weekly one to one coaching. I’d got on really well with Jess at the Ladies Who Lift course – she’s been on a similar fat loss journey to me which I always find inspiring and I thought it would be fun to try out training with her. She recently got into amazing shape for her wedding – have a look at this to see how
So for the last couple of months Jess and I have met once a week for a PT session. Mainly focussed on the barbell, but with some other strength or metabolic work added in as Jess decides. During that time I’ve set some pleasing personal bests. My bench press PB stands at 50kg, back squat at 75kg and deadlift at 100kg. Each of these has been achieved after a good few sets of ‘working’ at a slightly lower weight and Jess thinks I’ve probably got heavier weights in me. 2015 will tell!
No post about my strength training would be complete without a mention for the woman who got me started out with all this – Julia Buckley. I’ve been training with Julia for nearly two years now and during 2014 I’ve completed one round of her best selling The Fat Burn Revolution: Boost your metabolism and burn fat fast
and two rounds of her Extreme Inferno programme which have helped me to shift the fat that I gained during marathon training.
It was Julia who first encouraged me to lift heavy, who gave me the confidence to work to failure and who has completely changed my approach to my fitness and my diet.
On January 5th Julia launches her new programme Challenge XXX, a 30 day fitness challenge which is available to members of her fitness website. And in a turn of events that I could not possibly have imagined two years ago – I am featuring in the videos for two strength based sessions for the programme!
I was incredibly pleased when Julia asked me to go and film the sessions with her but to be honest a little bit daunted. Standing next to Julia and her amazingly sculpted body on screen concerned me a bit but I soon put that to the back of my mind and focussed on what a fantastic marker of my progress it would be. To have not just the physical strength and fitness but also the confidence to appear in a fitness video – that’s a little bit amazing for me and something that I will always be grateful to Julia for.
Sally, Jess and Julia have each played a different part in my strength training successes this year. I’m grateful to have been able to work with these three fantastic and inspiring women and I’m really looking forward to doing so again in 2015!