For years I never saw the point in strength and conditioning training. I was a runner, why would I want or need to lift weights and work on my upper body? Sure, who wouldn’t want a more sculpted body but would it really help me improve?

As a kid I was always active. As well as running I swam, played football, rugby, basketball; in fact I’d try most sports. However, I was also as skinny as a rake. In my teenage years I dabbled once or twice with doing some weights but I wasn’t that strong and I didn’t really enjoy them so even when I had a gym membership, I’d focus on high levels of cardio work.

When I want to university I took up rowing but even though strength was key, it was always of secondary interest to me. Indeed, I almost weighed in as a lightweight rower and had one of the best power to weight ratios as a result. If only I could have transferred that to absolute power!

In fact, even when I did eventually start weight training, I was dubious. It was early summer 2019 and I had just signed up for Manchester Marathon. The husband of my wife’s cousin is a Personal Trainer up in Yorkshire and he had put out a Facebook post about a “Conditioning for Runners” course he was about to start. This was obviously too far from home but just a couple of days later my wife was at a kid’s birthday party and was chatting to one of the other Dad’s who also happens to be a PT and she asked if he did anything like this.

My wife isn’t one to let the grass grow under her feet so before I knew it I was booked in for a trial. I may well have been dubious at the time, 4yrs later and I am definitely a convert.

Fortunately when I started I had a very clear goal. I wasn’t aiming to be a muscle bound beefcake, I wanted to ensure I stayed fit through my marathon training. This meant that my PT Kev could really work with me on improving my all round strength, but with a focus on making my body strong for the miles it was about to face.

There was a short gap where I didn’t train after Thomas Cook went bust and I was unsure what my finances would look like but by the time Covid hit, I’d been doing a session every week alongside all my mileage. There was another break when gyms were shut but as soon as I was able to start training I did and this saw me through the following 2 training blocks. For me, the key takeaway was that by the time I stood on the start line in London, I had run over 1,000 miles in training blocks. In that whole time I didn’t suffer a single injury!

However, it’s not just the “primary” goal that my strength training has provided. Unsurprisingly I have also got stronger! We took the kids to a Ninja Warrior soft play area. In years gone by my complete lack of upper body strength went against me but now… well I was able to do the lot! At the same time, for the first time ever, when I look in the mirror I see definition and I won’t lie, that does make me feel good about myself. Even during my recent months of struggling to find a running mojo I have kept up the gym session and this has really helped me tick over.

I’d really say if you are thinking about doing strength and conditioning work with a PT to improve your running then definitely do it. I was a big sceptic but have been turned round 180⁰ and now don’t know what I’d do without it in my training regime.

I train with Kev at Realfit St Neots and couldn’t recommend him enough. However, I’m aware this is really only of help if you live in St Neots like me! That said I would really suggest searching out your nearby independent gym and find yourself a PT!

By Mike

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