I used to be a runner. I would run 4-6 miles about four times each week and then go for a long run, 10-12 miles, every weekend. That was my routine when I wasn’t training for a race. If I had a race coming up, then those weekend runs would get even longer. And I was hardcore about it. I still like to brag about running 13 miles in 6-degree weather. I literally had chunks of ice between my layers of clothes.
Running started out as a way to shed post baby weight that had lingered for way too long. I started out on a treadmill barely able to finish 2 miles. I eventually met a woman who convinced me to go outside with her for a 4-miler. That was the turning point. I remember exactly how I felt during that run and it was nothing short of exhilarating. I also remember my first 10K, The Bluegrass 10,000, which gave me the confidence to run my first half-marathon. And my first half lead to the Country Music Marathon (26.2 miles) in Nashville, Tennessee.
Over the next several years, I continued to run. It became part of my identity. People would ask me all the time, “You still doing all that running?” I, of course, loved that people thought I was a bit nuts. But my body still did not look very good. Sure I lost some of those post baby pounds in the beginning, but over the years my weight was constantly up and down. I could run 12 miles easily on any given day, but that did NOT translate to a rock-hard body – not even close.
I finally decided to take drastic measures and signed up for group training classes at J&M Strength and Conditioning. On my first day at the gym, Jim asked me questions about my fitness goals and ran me through an assessment. I’m pretty sure it took Jim about 5 minutes to figure out that I’m very hard-headed and that I can be a real pain in the ass (stubborn, type A, a little bit OCD, and competitive as hell). So, his approach with me was no-nonsense.
If you want me to help you run faster and more efficiently, I can do that. But, if you want to look good and feel good, then distance running is counterproductive. You can’t serve two masters.
He wanted me to stop all distance running. Now, if you are a runner that probably sounds like CRAZY talk. I understand because I’m sure I looked at him like he had three heads. But over the course of the next three months (that’s how long it took for me to finally trust the program), I completely quit all distance running and focused on strength training. About that same time, and with the support of my coaches and more importantly other J&M clients, I switched to a Paleo diet.
In my “before” picture I was still running. In fact, I ran a half-marathon not long after the picture was taken. My “after” picture shows my results achieved in about four months, after I stopped running and focused on strength training exclusively. I was only allowed to train 3 or 4 times each week, and in the beginning, my sessions included mostly body weight exercises and heavy prowler. That’s all I needed to get results. My coach also had no qualms about telling me that I was done and to go home and focus on recovery (eat right, manage stress and sleep more). For those wondering, I’ve (only) lost five pounds, but I’m down two dress sizes.
Are you a runner and not happy with the way you look? Or maybe you are a slave to some other form of chronic cardio program? If so, I’m here to tell you that you can actually exercise LESS and get amazing results through strength training. You do not have to become a competitive powerlifter, but as my fellow Miss Fit, Jen, says, lifting heavy is fun as hell and extremely effective for fat loss!