After a long and what I thought was a pretty successful season for me, I looked back over what I thought I had done well and where I needed to improve. I had raced well and improved a lot, but I was still lacking when it came to the 600m mark where the stronger girls really lifted. That last 200m is where I was losing them; I just couldn’t maintain contact, so when the last lap came around I was always too far back to catch them. So I decided I needed to build some strength. Now unlike many of my fellow athletes, I chose to do a degree as far away from sport or the human body as I could go, so when it came down to what I needed to do, I was a real novice. So a little over 19weeks ago I started with my strength coach Mark. When I first started with Mark I was like any other athlete starting something new and sport related, arrogant. After spending the last year and a half getting myself in shape, running hills, monas and smashing out some track work I laughed in the face of doing a few push ups or a dozen lunges. How wrong I was. My first session was a disaster. I couldn’t even do 10 push ups in a row, let alone add any extra weight. I hated it. I was an athlete and I was in shape, why couldn’t I just smash out 100 chin ups like those guys in the movies?

My frustrations mounted and I spent the next 3 weeks hating Wednesday and Friday mornings. I would get up at 5am for my 6am start, where I would spend the next hour lifting a broom stick for a dead lift or struggling through a set of 10 burpees. I just couldn’t understand what was wrong with me, I was fit and running well but I had no real strength and it seemed to take so long for my body to learn how to support itself and progress through the workouts. The training was also affecting my running, my muscles ached and seized and I felt like I had severely plateaued. But slowly I began to make progress. My real problem with the strength training was the mental side of things. I always felt tired and disappointed with my efforts; I never had that elated feeling like you get from a great long run or when you flick off the bend in a killer track session. It was the constant feeling of going up a long and never ending hill. I spoke to Mark about this feeling and he simply responded, “Brittany strength training is not like running, it is ok to fail here, you can drop a weight or struggle through that last chin up and it is not a sign of weakness it just shows that you are not ready yet, it will come. You never want this to feel easy, because then there is no benefit, once you have hit that easy feeling, it is time to move on to the next weight, that is how you improve.”

Maybe it was my lack of knowledge or simply pure stubbornness but too say that I rebelled against this ideal was an understatement. I longed to just get in and rip it up, smash through a session and not look back. I continued with the training and continued my slow and limited progress. It wasn’t until I had returned from Russia and enjoyed a well-earned three and a half week break that the ‘penny finally dropped’. I finally understood what Mark was trying to do. I may not have been an overnight success, but all my hard work is starting to pay off. I am reaching that middle part of my sessions that usually feel like you are treading water and I am coming out the other side gunning for home. My strength sessions are no longer the uphill battle I made them out to be and I am pleased to say that with Mark’s help I have improved out of sight.

It is going to be a tough season with a lot of ups and down, but I am ready to face it head on and give it my all.

Thanks for reading!!!

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