What a feeling, when your body is just taking in all the work and stress you are putting it through and just responding and adapting. I have been feeling so good lately, so strong I love it.
I've gotten back to my roots a bit this week and started doing more heavy strength training. When I lost all the weight it was with a personal trainer in the weight room, with a lot less cardio than people seem to think. I found that my body responds well to the strength training, a combination of fast twitch muscle fibres and a hormonal response. My body likes to hold onto fat stores, but at the same time can build strength and muscle fairly easily, like most things a give and take.
I dont think I will ever look like those triathletes with low body fat percentage, my body seems to respond differently to the demands of long slow endurance training. I'm small, but have a very small frame and still about 20% body fat. I've found that I start to gain weight when I do just steady state training. With the attention I pay to my diet I know its not overeating that is causing it, but more likely a hormonal response to the training. But you know what? I love my body, and I feel damned good about the way I look.
The greatest thing that happened to me in my fitness journey is when I started seeing my body in measures of performance to make it stronger and faster. There is no better feeling or motivation, when your body is just responding, you feel fluid, strong, and every fibre seems to move in sync.
And wow rambling, back to the weight training. I'm doing some heavy lifting for the next few weeks. Right now in the base period is the time to build up pure strength, something I haven't done since I started running. I've strength trained on and off, but usually just body weight for the lower body only really lifting for the upper body. Back in Texas I didn't want to fatigue my legs because my run would suffer, and I was just barely holding on to the running group that I was running with in the mornings. I was also racing every few weeks and there was no period where I took a break long enough to focus on that strength.
I love being back in the gym, it was where my fitness journey started and it feels like home. It's entertaining working out in my gym though, its a dark windowless gym with low ceilings and a large group of men with their arms a foot out from either side of their bodies because their lats (or they pretend) get in the way. A lot of strutting around in tank tops and cut off shirts, and a place where the men spend as much time flexing in the mirror as lifting. There is a stretching section of the gym on the opposite side with a few dumbbells where you will find a few females, but the heavy weights and plates are in the heart of the gym and usually dominated by some hard core looking guys. So I figured I would dress up as colourfully as possible and invade their space. Sporting some neon orange shorts, electric green top and pink shoes I made my way over. I've never seen another girl in that area of the gym, and I don't think those guys had either :p A couple side ways looks, I rotated in on the bench and did my thing. I love the feeling of lifting heavy, that burn, knowing the adaptations it will cause in your muscles. I kept it pretty restrained because its been so long, and look forward to seeing what changes come of it.
One surprise was how my legs felt on the bike afterwards! They felt ready to go, just firing efficiently and pumped up. I wasn't sure how to fit in the weight training but this works perfectly. It forces me to go to the pool in the morning, which would usually be waylaid until after the bike and be less effective because I was tired. Then after the swim I hit the weights (if I didn't swim first I would be headed to the gym twice in the day and thats just inefficient). After that head home to chow down on a big breakfast, followed by a quality bike ride. Its a simple but perfect way to add it in. My legs feel primed for the bike after the lifting (which I did not expect) and just feel good off the bat, then by the time DOM's sets in 48 hours later I will have already done my run. Genius! (thanks Tim!). So far I've been taking the weights pretty easy nowhere near failure just so I can adjust and make sure form is spot on, so no DOM's yet.
I'm loving this schedule and the day is definitely quality but works so well that I finish it with energy still high. Overall energy has been really high, I'm just craving each workout. It seems like my body sucks up the work and asks for seconds. Talk about a boost when my coach adds on work and my body keeps asking for more. I'm learning about the base period, and right now I'm training my body to be ready to really train for Ironman, setting that foundation that will carry me through to that finish line where I will hear "You are an Ironman"
There is no doubt, I will be an Ironman ;)