Ironman Training, Musings

Going From Strength to Strength

A couple of years ago a visit to a new chiropractor resulted in the recommendation that I “Really should think about some kind of strengthening program” After manipulating joints (push against my hand…I am …as hard as you can…I am), poking muscles and taking some official looking measurements he proclaimed that I was utterly weak and inflexible. (OK he didn’t put it quite like that, but that was definitely the message). He posited that increasing my all round strength offer improvement in all aspects of my day to day life, not to mention my athletic performance.

The good news was, the only way was up.

I decided to join a ‘bootcamp’, a twice weekly fitness class. I had tried this type of class before – more than once – and had never had much success. Large groups of people with varying abilities doing the same workout. Often exercises were impossibly hard, inadequately explained, or both. The instructors didn’t have time to help each person. I always ended up discouraged, and perhaps never kept going long enough to see real change. I had always wanted to do a pull up, a completely arbitrary goal and it seemed ridiculous even to me…

So, I was nervous as I headed to my first Designer Fitness session. The group was smaller and the instructor immediately welcoming. Everything was explained clearly and the instructor was approachable and always made time to answer questions. Those early sessions were fast paced and hard, but never impossible; there was always a modification to allow everyone to achieve. The classes took place outdoors which was pleasant and the other participants turned out to be a great bunch too!

This time I did begin to see changes. Those push ups which I had never been able to do, were starting to get easier and soon I was able to keep up with the workouts. It wasn’t until a few months later though, that I realised how much change was occurring.

My running was improving.

That year (2013) I ran my first non-stop 5km, no walking! Followed swiftly by a non-stop 10km. I hadn’t been running much that year due to injuries, the only difference was the bootcamp.

The progress continued through the winter until disaster struck in the spring.

Stress Fracture – No running, in fact, no extraneous weight bearing activity.

I delivered the bad news to Katie – I was clearly going to have to take some time off – but no…

Rather than let me spend the summer feeling sorry for myself, or falling off the fitness wagon altogether, she proceeded to modify my workouts.

All.          Summer.          Long!

My arms and core were just not expecting this sudden change of focus!

“Engage your core”

“You can do anything for 20 seconds”

And by the end of the summer, muscles I had never seen before seemed to be growing out of nowhere and I was redefining possibilities with respect to my fitness.

I continue to attend the bootcamps, my favourite being the Cardio Core Climb at Beyond the Crux climbing gym (How could that not be fun?!!) and having made so many gains I am motivated to continue.

Cardio Core Climb

Now that I have located it, engaging my core is proving useful in many different areas of life and sport.

The pull up might still be a way off, but I know for sure I will be able to do it one day.

And, you know, you really can do almost anything for 20 seconds…which was really a far more valuable lesson in the end.

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