As I mentioned before in a previous post, this pre-season (a better name than off season), I am focusing a lot of time and energy on strength. Whether it is doing butterfly in the pool (I look more like I am twerking), doing hill repeats on the bike, or starting to trail run, my schedule emphasizes gaining muscle and making body and mind strong (insert: like bull).
|Got a little too wild and crazy at a party...|
This focus is essential for a good season next year. With my runner's build, it is hard for me to keep up with the big boys on the bike and my races suffer because of it. While I can put out a 4.0 watt/kg HIM race output, it is only a 240 watts compared to everyone else who can do much much more. Consequently, I have been proverbially hitting the weights to improve this deficit.
Going to the weight room is a little intimidating to be honest. At my gym in "Snottsdale," there are athlete whose biceps are the size of my waist. I walked past one person yesterday who had my body weight just on one side of bar. There are women whose diamond rings may weigh more than the dumbbell. Some are made of more plastic than the Barbie Doll that they are trying to look like. There are the high school athletes with full beards. Then there is little pipe arm me feeling like a mix between Spongebob:
And Homer Simpson:
I have always enjoyed weight lifting in the past. I find it an awesome switch up from my normal swim/bike/run routine. It has also been a struggle for me mentally to do because of a deep dark, still ingrained fear that I am going to gain weight.
Then I had one of those "Duoh! What have I been thinking? Of course!" moments this past week. As I stepped on the scale, it occurred to me that I actually want my weight to go up. Say WHAT?! Yep you read correctly: up.
|My "Health" score compliments of my gym|
If the number on the scale goes down then that means my body is
sacrificing muscle. I am so lean right now at 3% body fat that any significant decrease on the scale most likely is a canniblization of muscle, the exact opposite of what I want. I have hit rock bottom or to paraphrase Drake, I am starting from the bottom and hopefully will get there.
Talk about a 180 degree reversal of thinking!
I am still struggling with my fear that if the number does go up then my run will suffer. My run has always been my strength but will it continue to be, if I gain 10 more muscle mass like I am supposed to?
Since September of last year I have gained 10 lbs of muscle going from 125 to 135, and while I have not really improved per se in my races, I would say I am healthier and happier overall. I am recovering better from workouts, am sick less often, and most likely have better thyroid function.
The only way to know though is to take the leap and hope for the best. Looking at the "data" out in the real world, there are plenty of triathletes who have raced 2:50 Ironman marathon splits while being 140-160 lbs but not many that are 135 except some select women.
Just because I am weight lifting does not mean that I am going to look like the 'roided up guys around me. Strength is not about size it is about how many neurons connected to your muscles can be recruited and utilized multiple times with the same force over the course of (hopefully in my case next year) 9 hours and 30 minutes or less. It is also about holding your form over the course of training without breaking down and keeping you injury free all season long...but that is just my two watts.
What are your thoughts? Do you follow a specific lifting/strength program? Has it helped? If so how? Leave your thoughts and comments bellow, I would love to hear them.