Marathon running and strongwoman. Running 26.2 miles and lifting heavy stuff around. On the face of it they’re very different things. One is all about endurance, the other about strength and power. One is doing the same thing for a few hours, the other is doing different things for no longer than a couple of minutes. When you think about the typical body types of people who do well in each sport you imagine very different things. They’re totally different sports, or so I thought.
As I’ve trained for my first strongwoman event next weekend I’ve been surprised by the amount of crossover there has been between my marathon training experience and my experience over the last few months. Here’s a few reasons why
Trust the training plan
When I first started training for my marathon the longest run I’d done previously was 10 miles. I had no idea how I was going to make it around 26.2 just a few months later. I remembered that feeling as I looked at the 120kg deadlift weight for my competition with a one rep max of 100kg. I had no idea how I’d lift 20kg more but a couple of months later I can. You’ve got to have, trust, and of course follow the training plan!
It’s as much mental as it is physical
There were so many times during marathon training when I wondered whether or not I had it in me to complete the training run I was due to do next. I learned quickly that it wasn’t a useful mindset to have. Believe you can do it and you will.
The same has applied many times to lifting. When setting up to lift a new maximum weight the worst thing I can think is ‘I’m not sure I can do this’. Much better to approach the weight with confidence. I’ve had far greater success that way.
Someone wise once said ‘if you think you can or think you can’t you’re right’. There’s a lot of truth in that phrase.
Don’t fear the taper
The two week taper for my first marathon was a roller-coaster of emotions. What if I lost my fitness, what if I forgot how to run, what if I got a cold, what if my legs fell off?
I know now that a period of rest and recovery before a big event is exactly what the body needs. It will feel strange not to lift this week but my body will thank me for it. It’s absolutely the best way to prepare.
Nothing new on race/competition day
New socks from the race expo or the gel that’s being handed out on the course that you’ve never tried before. One of the first rules of running I learned was not to try anything I’d not tried before on race day. I’ve broken this rule on a 10K run to my own (and my poor blistered feet’s) detriment but always respected it with marathons.
The same rule will apply on Sunday – I’ll be lifting in tried and tested kit and fuelling with things I know I can stomach.
‘Run the mile you’re in’ or ‘lift the event you’re in’.
When you cross the start line of a marathon you’re best not to think about the 26.2 miles ahead of you or the task might seem insurmountable. Far better to concentrate on running that first mile, and then the next, and then the next.
The same applies to strongwoman. I don’t want to be thinking about the atlas stones when I’m preparing to deadlift. Or wondering whether or not I’ll manage the 70kg sandbag when I’m about to lift the log. Concentrate on what I’m doing, one thing at a time.
Don’t get phased by what others are doing
At the start of a race it’s easy to get swept along with other people and run far faster than you’d intended to. I’ve been caught out by this on many occasions. You need to concentrate on your plan and what you and only you are doing.
Remembering this is going to be really important for me next weekend. Don’t worry about what others are doing, how they’re warming up, what they’re lifting. Just concentrate on what I’m doing and lift as best as I can. If I come away knowing that I gave me best on the day then I’ll have achieved my goal.
Having written these points down I imagine that they might apply to the preparation for any big sporting event, but I’ve found it really fascinating how much completing two marathons has helped me to prepare for my first strongwoman event.
Turns out that running 26.2 miles and lifting heavy stuff around isn’t so different after all!