The focus on strength and function have been essential to my return to running. Running on the Woodways with the instructors’ guidance has made me aware of my form and given me the tools that I needed to improve. In just a couple months, I am finally running pain free and feeling my strongest.
The 10-miler was the first time in 3-years that I have stepped on a starting line and felt good about my fitness. There have been many factors that led to that . . . The Charlottesville community as a whole has just been so conducive to fitness and running. This is a super active community that is full of people who have welcomed me and helped me get back into the swing of things.
James and I kicked off our “running relationship” the way I like to start every first official meeting with a client… over a cup of coffee. We sat down and went over all the things I find to be important when helping someone with their training. There are the obvious questions like what are your goals, what are your PR’s, what has your mileage looked like in the past… those are the numbers questions. However, running is about a lot more than just numbers.
Pat’s instructions called for me to hit 40 seconds per 200 during the hard intervals in the first set, take four minutes rest, then resume and aim for 38-40 seconds on the hard intervals. The first set I was dead on the pace, knocking out between 39-41 seconds per lap on every hard 200. After the break I came back and hit 36 seconds and change on the first interval. Blazing. A little too blazing. That extra two seconds per 200 had me breathing much heavier and feeling “that feeling” in my obliques.
While my highly empathic nature can open up a sliver of room for insight into the goal behind the goal, I have felt as though there was a skillset I was missing to more precisely tap into the answers my clients would only really be able to find for themselves (and from themselves!) Which is how I found myself gravitating towards the emerging field of health coaching.
In comparing Formula’s approach with past marathon training plans, I found that my overall mileage remained relatively consistent; however, Formula’s focus on speed work, strength training, running efficiency, and overall mechanics made all the difference for me. Both the Equilibrium and Focus classes challenged me in new ways and I began approaching my training with a new-found excitement and discipline.
I love the flexibility of Equilibrium — I can always count on getting the most out of what my legs have on the day. Whether that is 8.0mph or 11.0mph, I don’t have to stress. I know the class environment will push me to do my best on the day and will also allow me to have some fun on the days when I am not feeling as good!
Above the physical gains, both measurable and those not so easily quantified, I’ve improved my attitude (becoming comfortable being uncomfortable as we’ve heard from Jason) and my confidence as a runner. Pushing the pace to 12.0 - 12.5 MPH on the Woodway for a final surge or two was beyond laughable a short-time ago, now it’s a reality…most days.
Before long, I started noticing subtle things: my heart rate didn’t get as high when we got into faster paces. I started recovering more quickly at my “easy pace” between intervals. When I took my running to the hilly streets in my neighborhood, I found that hills that used to intimidate me were now surprisingly easy, as I seemed to float to the crest fueled by my strong glutes thanks to RDLs and kettlebell swings.
For me, running and fitness has been my greatest passion in life. When I was 9 years old, my babysitter took me to my first road race in an effort to wear me out . . . I remember sprinting off the line when the gun fired and running out of steam two miles in. The first thing I asked my babysitter (Mrs. April) when I regained my composure was if we could come back next week and run it again. I was hooked.
Some people refuse to believe me when I tell them I used to smoke a pack of Camel Lights a day. By the time I relocated back to Central Virginia from New York I’d managed to kick the habit and replace it with running, so the people that met me upon my return have only known me as a non-smoker. Over that time running has become increasingly central to my life and central to my identity, to the point that it seems incredible to some that I could have ever been an occasional smoker, never mind a habitual one.
Our brains are flexible and adaptable organs. Just as you can strengthen and shape your muscles, your brain can be molded--changing and adapting to what you throw at it over the course of your life. Exercise plays a crucial role in keeping our brain strong and resilient by optimizing the way it functions.
It’s easy to get in the mindset of just “getting through the miles” when marathon training. What that sometimes leads to for me is sloppy form. Strength training has made me more aware of the muscles I’m using when I’m running and has reminded me to use muscles that I wasn’t. Because of this I simply feel stronger and have more fun. - Ashley Twiggs, currently training for her 2nd marathon
The classes challenged my running capabilities and for the first time ever I felt like I was running efficiently . . . I learned that each exercise and each movement had a reason behind it and my speeds improved as I went to more classes. I moved out of the post-college fitness slump and can now say I’m probably in the best shape of my life.
It has almost become cliché to say that runners should strength train. So then I ask, are you a runner who is strength training consistently (2-3 times a week)? If the answer is “hmmm, no,” you might not fully understand all of the amazing benefits we get from strength training. Let me break it down for you.
This year, I ran my second race and completed my first Tough Mudder - both things that were out of the question a few years ago. I feel stronger, and more confident in what my body is capable of. Most of all, I have energy. I am up at 5:00am to make it to class (a wonder in and of itself, for me!) and feel energized and ready for the day afterwards.
Incorporating consistent strength training into my training as a competitive runner is a relatively new development. Anybody who's talked training with me recently knows how adamant I am about the importance of strength training for runners, but I had to travel a long (and occasionally painful) road to obtain that knowledge.