Getting Big Guns (Part 2)

 A few weeks ago I talked about strength training. In that blog I made it clear that I wasn’t really interested in strength training, for the same reasons most of us don’t do it.

I spoke to Jane and Graeme Rundle at Coast to Coast Personal Training and for every reason I had not to do strength training, they had an educated answer for why I should.

So 11 weeks ago, with my towel and water bottle in hand I walked up those stairs determined to have an open-mind.

The initial session was a lot of information gathering, measurements and running talk, what I wanted to gain out of it and what they wanted me to gain. This level of information gathering really impressed me and it set the tone of our relationship. I knew after this session that we would be “working together”, instead of my initial thought of just being given a routine of pushing weights.

Then the hard work began!

As runners we all think we are reasonably fit and strong. I mean really, I can run 100km, I have to be strong, right? ……………….WRONG!


Building a solid base

Building a solid base

Those first few weeks Jane had me doing exercises that I would have expected to do in a gym, squats, lunges, bench press etc. Now, in part 1 of this topic I said that pushing weights in a gym is not my thing, but I may have been a bit premature in saying that.

Connie and I do our sessions together with Jane. 3 women in a small space together is a recipe for fun and laughter so I enjoy our sessions but more importantly I am learning!

3 women in a gym....trouble!

3 women in a gym….trouble!

Those rose coloured glasses of where I thought I was were well and truly knocked off of my face. To put it bluntly I was weak!

What an eye opener I had, I put my body through hours upon hours of running, up and down, under the load of a pack, on uneven ground, yet I can barely do a decent set of weighted lunges. Is it any wonder I have had the injuries I had?

I spoke to Jane and Graeme about this and there answer got me really excited about continuing these session.

“Tymeka, we are going to build your strength, we are going to create a base for you. It will take a few weeks but then we get into some really fun and dynamic stuff. We want to make you bullet proof”

Those first few weeks we built strength and as my strength improved so did the amount of weight I was lifting. I was surprised that the sets and reps I was doing were more gear toward power then endurance ie 6 reps.


At this point I was definitely feeling strong, in fact I felt like She-ra. I was lifting weight I thought I never would, each week was an improvement. At home I could lift my 18month old daughter with ease and without my back

She-ra -Princess of Power

She-ra -Princess of Power

having to lever her up because my Grover arms couldn’t do their part. At work my confidence grew and with that my safety. I was LOVING it.

Runners are endurance I said, why not 10-15 reps? “Endurance comes from running Tymeka, this is strength.”

But I was noticing a change in my body……I felt like a nugget! Yes I a noticeably stronger, not just at the gym but at home. But I felt bigger, my fears of strength training were happening.

Jane, I am getting bigger. What can we do about that? The answer seemed simple “Run more Tymeka”.

But this was the problem. I had been unwell for a while now and I running less than 50% of what I normally would for the past few months. This gave me 2 issues. 1. My endurance was not great, 2. In a few weeks I was doing the Buffalo Stampede 26er.

With limited running, no endurance and feeling I had extra bulk I really felt this race was doomed!

Strong core with dynamic movements

Strong core with dynamic movements

Then the sessions changed, I had built my base and suddenly it was very specific to trail running. Yes I continued to do squats lunges etc. but is was doing a lot of Dynamic strengthening. Jumping, bounding, twisting, hopping.

It was around this time that I notice I was getting more definition and I was feeling leaner again. ………BOOM! This is fantastic.

When I could get out on the trails I was able to run the hills that I had needed to walk these last few months and I felt more balanced and stable on the single track.

Would this get me to the finish line at Buffalo Stampede?

I arrived in Bright feeling very, very underdone. I know, don’t all runners say they haven’t done any training? But the fact is I was running between 25-35km per week and all reports said this course was to be brutal, I was worried!

I started right at the back and ran the initial flat very very easy, thinking there was a good chance I would need to pull out at some point.

And just like a slap in the face I was surprised with a brutally steep climb only a few km’s in and it didn’t seem to end. But I realised, although it was hard my legs weren’t burning and I was hiking past people, a lot of people. This course was as brutal as they suggested and I absolutely did not have the running in me. But luckily for me it was a lot of steep, long climbs and with the strength work I had done I was perfectly set up for that.

About 4 and a half hours later I crossed the line (33km of seriously difficult course) and there is no doubt in my mind it was due to the work Jane had me doing in the 1

So I am converted. The way I feel from strength work, the improvements in my running, the ease at doing tasks at home and work, no longer feeling tight and sore in my lower back, my improved posture, I am happy.

I recently had an accident that means I am having some time off training. I am shocked at how much I miss my strength sessions, but excited to regain what I have lost these last few weeks.

My Final verdict:

  • Stick with it, it may take a few weeks before it all comes together and you see the result you want.
  • Find a strength trainer that really understands running and specifically trail running.
  • Strength training will always be a part of my training, I wish I started earlier.

*** A huge Thank You to Jane and Graeme Rundle at Coast to Coast Personal Trainers for sharing your skills and knowledge with us and an even bigger thanks for putting up with all our continuous chatter during your sessions***

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