Monthly Archives: June 2016

You Think I Can Lift How Much?!

“You think I can lift how much?”

That’s how every Monday night starts for me.  Since last August, I’ve been working with an amazing personal trainer–Alisha Williams-Jackson at Power Works.

I started working out with Alisha because a co-worker (thanks Brenda!) was already seeing great results with her, and I wanted to lose the last five pounds.  I had no idea how that weight-training was also going to improve my running endurance.

Every Monday, Alisha puts us through circuits, gradually increasing the weight and making me do things I didn’t know I could do.  By Tuesday morning, there’s nothing that isn’t a little sore, but after my long run on Saturday, I feel strong and pain-free.

I want to make it seem like it’s all just hard work, but it’s also a good mix of fun and therapy.  Between complaining about Jacob’s Ladder and step-ups, I’m doubled over laughing at my inability to jump rope.

Besides learning how to use free-weights in ways I would have never imagined–not to mention the amount of weight I’m now able to lift–what are the benefits of working with a personal trainer like Alisha?

  1.  After this year’s half-marathon, I was walking without much pain almost immediately.  My running form was also much stronger when I hit the finish line.

2    I have a muscle in my arm that I’m more than a little proud of and happy to post on Facebook.

Arm muscle!

Arm muscle!


3.     2 pant sizes down from a year ago

4.     Three pounds down, but that’s misleading given the amount of muscle I’ve gained in the last year.  I’m more excited about the 2 pant sizes.

5.  Doing things I never would have imagined I’m capable of doing.  Like a handstand!  Well, it was against the wall, but still, it was pretty impressive.

The experts I’ve talked to for the blog so far have unanimously recommended strength-training as an integral part of a running program.  I can attest to that, personally, and try to force myself to repeat Alisha’s Monday night workout on Wednesdays for two sessions of strength-training each week.  It’s much easier to force myself through the last few reps, though, when she’s watching on Mondays.

The only downside…when Alisha sees this blog post, I’m going to have to stop complaining whens he increases the weight!

Advice from the Experts–Fit Club and Tony Maier


For the ten years I’ve lived in Springfield, I’ve been working out at Fit Club.  One obvious factor in making the decision to join Fit Club was the three convenient locations in Springfield, making it easy to stop for a workout either before or after work.  The reason I’ve stayed loyal to Fit Club, though, is because of the excellent staff.

Last week, I reached out to Fit Club asking for a little expertise about building a better running practice that I could share here.  Fit Club could not have been more helpful, and quickly referred me to Tony Maier, Director of Production and Growth at Fit Club.

On Tuesday, armed with a notebook and many questions, I met with Tony.  Tony’s experience as a runner, race producer, and tri-athlete leaves my couple of half-marathons in the dust, but he was eager to share his experiences and wisdom.

Q:  What can runners do in the gym to improve their running?

A:  Strength, core stability and foam roll.  Tony considers lack of strength training to be the most common mistake new runners make.  While lack of strength training may not be noticeable at first, he says that an increase in strength training makes it possible for our bodies to recover from the repetitive, pounding runners’ legs and bodies endure.  Tony also notes that runners don’t take stretching seriously enough.  I know I am guilty of this and have paid for it with sore hips in the past.

Tony also suggests runners foam roll either before or after a run.  Fit Club has foam rollers available and after you get used to the initial tinge, it is a great feeling.

Q:  How often do you run?

A:  Tony generally runs three to four days a week.  Right now, he is training for a triathlon in Utah, and his running routine is five miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a long run on Saturday.  This was a great relief, because it is the same training I used for both half-marathons and made me feel like in terms of mileage (definitely not pace), I am moving up in the world of running!

Q:  What classes at Fit Club would you recommend for runners?

A:  Yoga, Ball Zone, and Body Pump.  I have yet to try these classes (although am a big fan of Fit Club’s Cycle Fit Class), but will be adding these to next week’s schedule.

Q:  What do you eat during long runs or triathlons?

A:  Hammer gels and Thrive gels.

If you’re looking for a gym in Springfield, I can tell you that in ten years, Fit Club has never let me down.  Open nearly twenty-four hours, the staff is always helpful, the classes are challenging and creative, and other than the time I fell off the treadmill (twice, in the same workout, through absolutely no fault of Fit Club), I’ve never had anything but great workouts.

Check out Tony’s race production company, Rise Up and Run Productions.  Tony is particularly excited about the River Run, a scenic ten mile run up the river.  This race also has a bike race at the beginning with shuttle service for the ambitious that want to tackle a ten mile bike race before the ten mile run.

Thank you Tony for the advice! I know I will be adding the classes and stretching to my routine right away.


My Ambitious August

There were three races I was really looking forward to registering for this summer: Woodridge Mini-Triathlon, Abe’s Amble, and Memorial Medical Center Dr. Dan Adair Triathlon. Too bad for me, they are on consecutive Sundays in August.

I did the Woodridge Triathlon last summer and loved it! It’s an incredibly well-organized race with great race support and the distances of all three events are enough to be demanding, but short enough to make it a fun morning for competitors and spectators.

It’s an efficient order to train for, though, with the mini-triathlon kicking things off and culminating in a longer sprint triathlon.

Today, I started legitimately training for all three races with a serious strength session–check back Wednesday for details.

The rest of the week will look something (hopefully), like this:
Tuesday: Run 3 miles AM; bike 6 miles PM (thankfully my Mom generously loaned me her bike for the summer);
Wednesday: Repeat of Monday’s strength session
Thursday: Run 3 miles AM; swim 30 minutes PM
Friday: Run 4 miles
Saturday: Rest and enjoy the day with friends.

The key to this training plan is to stay flexible. I’ve been fairly strict about sticking to half-marathon training schedules in the past, but with the three races and three sports to prepare for, flexibility will help me get to August.

Thoughts on consecutive races? Am I crazy or ambitious? Is anyone else running any of these races?

Babysitting the Brain

When I started training for my first half marathon, the mental challenge was at least as difficult as the physical challenge.  I can’t entertain myself with music for an hour plus long run.  Audio books, though, work well for me.

My favorite non-running audio books are ones that distract, entertain, and engage my brain on the long runs.

A few of my favorites:
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris of Good Morning America fame.

Bossypants by Tina Fey.

If you’re running alone and find yourself laughing while listening to these books, it’s completely normal!  Any runner listening to an audio book will understand and won’t assume you’re crazy.

And if you have something that makes you laugh while you’re slogging through the long run, let me know!

Making of a Real Runner

What makes a real runner?  Am I a real runner?

Yes. I am a real runner. Not because I am fast (I’m not). Not because I have a shiny marathon medal hanging in my house (I don’t. Yet.). But because I run, I improve, and I have once popped my own blister using an embroidery needle.

My journey has, so far, taking me through a forty minute 5K that made me think maybe running was fun, to my second half-marathon where I knew running was part of me. I’m still slow, but getting faster. I’m learning to run in the rain and the heat, in large races and small races. Most importantly, I’m learning something about myself on every run.

If you’re a runner, with or without a marathon medal (yet), with blisters and bibs to show for it, leave a comment, advice, recommendations, or your next race.