Getting stronger by moving out of my comfort zone

Morning! And happy Friday eve 😉 I hope your week is going well. Mine has just flown by! I can’t believe I have one more weekend until Cheddar Gorge marathon is here (16th August).

I’ve been reading some reviews and honestly it’s freaking me out. I went onto the Marathon Talk website to see if there was an event already set up for Cheddar Gorge and found some enlightening comments about the race:

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To be honest though I’m already aware of how tough the course is as I’ve done the half marathon, which is one lap of the two laps that make up the marathon. So nothing will be a surprise to me. I also know it took me just under two hours to do the half and that was putting some welly into it (my recap is HERE). My expectations are definitely set!

Lately I’ve been really getting into my gym strength training. I’ve surprised myself by actually following the New Rules of Lifting for Women and consequently going to the gym has been far more enjoyable. Having someone (albeit a book) tell me what to do is fantastic! I just follow the routines and get going. I still include some of my standard strength training (single leg strength and plyometrics) but I follow the book’s workouts and the number of repetitions and sets.

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By ‘only’ lifting 15 repetitions and for two or three sets this has meant I can really up my weight and mentally power through because it’s going to end shortly [side note: this is somewhat ironic because in running I feel the opposite; 5ks are short and painful but I hate them and would rather run longer and slower]. I feel strong and hardcore, which is always nice! And there’s a definite sense of progress as you tick through the routines and bump up the weights.

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And something else to liven up my workouts was going down to the track on Tuesday night with my running club. As you probably know, I detest short distance running (I’ll rarely ever enter a 5k race other than parkruns). So going down to the track to do specific speed workouts is possibly the worst thing I can imagine.

Why did I go then? Well, it’s easy to stay comfortable in running and let all the runs merge into the same sort of pace. If you don’t challenge your body, you don’t get stronger. Though I’m training for a marathon (or two – finger’s crossed) speed work might not necessarily come to mind as an important workout to incorporate into your training plan…but actually it is important. Perhaps not every week, but definitely having it in there compliments the longer, slower runs.

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This is what I kept telling myself as I ran to the track. I parked two miles away so I could get a decent warm-up. Speed work is hard enough for me and I wanted to make sure my body was adequately prepared for this torture.

The plan was to blast 200m, have 30 seconds recovery and repeat three more times. Then have a five minute recovery and repeat the intervals again. In total we did this three times (3x 4x200m). Beforehand we did a mile (ish) warm-up and drills and got going. Honestly my stomach was a ball of nerves. This is ridiculous I do realise. Running for me is usually about enjoyment.

Saying that though, I did really enjoy it. OK not while my lungs were bursting and my legs were pounding, but I felt such a sense of achievement afterwards. It’s funny because I thought five minutes would be ages but really it flew by and I needed every single second of it (which reminded me of Tom William’s in the Marathon Talk podcast talking about his mile training and how long his rests were when he did interval training).

And the whole workout flew by. It was nice commiserating with the others over how painful it was between the intervals and we kept each other motivated. I would never have been able to have done this alone, that is certain.

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I ran the two-ish miles back at quite a clip pace as legs felt good. Mainly I wanted to get home for dinner…I should have taken it slower but I was buoyed by the speedy workout. Yes, not sensible I know…

It’s made me realise that the track isn’t the worst thing in the world, and nor is going to the gym. Both have a place in making me stronger, healthy and good at running (I define good by “being able to run as much as I want without injury”). And lifting heavier weights won’t make me bulky or chunky or other ridiculous stereotypes of female weight-lifting. In short, I feel in a really good place right now with my body, my strength and my running. It’s been a while that all three of those things have happened for me together.

In the (very boring) film version of my life, this is where something bad happens…finger’s crossed it doesn’t!

How do you push yourself outside of your comfort zone?

Do you lift weights?

How do you make yourself stronger?

8 thoughts on “Getting stronger by moving out of my comfort zone

  1. This year I’ve pushed myself by making a real effort at parkrun, which is something that previously scared me-always thinking I was going to fail and choosing to run the 5k distance at a more comfortable speed instead. I’m not sure I could stomach a track session just yet though!
    I lack any upper body strength and I know that this is something I really need to work on next to improve.
    P.S. Nice bottle you have there! 😛
    Mary recently posted…A little protein boostMy Profile

  2. I just do body pump which is the opposite I suppose, 5 mins of reps for each muscle set. But I love it for a change. We have a track session coming up with Jemma Simpson which is exciting and scary. I’m bad enough when we do lamp post intervals! It’s funny though, when we start I want to jig not walk the breaks ( we do walk, not, sprint) but once you get going you need the walk to breathe again!
    Maria recently posted…Breakfasts and BuzzingMy Profile

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