A Reality Check in the Form of Bootcamp

On Monday, I got guilt-tripped into attending a bootcamp session that my work put on during lunch. To be honest, I really wasn’t in the mood to display my glaring lack of upper-body strength (my coworkers and I liken our flimsy limbs to those on windsock men) and coordination to the world, not to mention I haven’t lifted in almost a year. But heck, hadn’t I just knocked out a super-hilly 20-miler last weekend? Bootcamp should be a piece of cake compared to that…Man was that logic flawed.

For warmup, we had to do bear crawls while dodging rabbit poo. Awesome.

For warmup, we had to do bear crawls while dodging rabbit poo. Awesome.

Not 10 minutes into the strength segment of the class, my air-squat-induced screaming quads and already-fading biceps and triceps thanks to endless sets of push-ups had me silently directing a steady stream of obscenities at our instructor. Say what now? You want us to do another set of mountain climbers and push-ups? I can’t even hold the plank position anymore! I mumbled to my coworker that I’d do mile repeats over this any day of the week. Adding insult to injury, we mixed in sets of step-ups and bench dips.

To cap off the session, the instructor challenged us to 200 air squats, 100 push-ups, and 50 burpees to divide between groups of two. Say what now?!? I stood there a little dumbfounded at the prospect of 50 push-ups after the already intense session we had just completed. But ahh alright, alright. Challenge accepted.

See that? Yeah, it was "soul-crushing."

See that? Yeah, it was “soul-crushing.”

My partner and I powered through the air squats–thank God for Pennsylvania’s crazy, quad-strengthening hills–but we were reduced to girly push-ups almost instantly. And forget any semblance of proper form when it came time for the burpees. We were the very definition of “weaksauce,” a term my younger brother would use to describe our pathetic efforts.

After the workout, my coworker encapsulated my dejected and dizzy thoughts perfectly: That bootcamp reminded me of how truly one-dimensional many runners are when it comes to strength. (My editor tweeted this, too: “Watching the workout, you could definitely tell the regular cross-trainers from the run-run-runners.”)

Well, I’m definitely a run-run-runner, that’s for sure.

On Tuesday, I woke up to a level of soreness that almost rivaled post-marathon pain, and it has persisted until now. I still can’t get up or sit down without wincing. I’ll admit that I’ve spent a good amount of time complaining about how insane and ridiculous that bootcamp was since Monday, but the nagging aches had me wondering if upper-body strength training really is all that important for runners. I totally understand the need for a strong core, but what does it matter if my arms can’t bench more than 50 pounds? I can get by without lifting, right?

Wrong.

I tweeted this to my followers: How often do you work on upper-body strength? Do you think it’s important for running? and the first response I received was this –

And this:

I knew deep down that I would probably get replies like these, but to get one from an elite runner like Lauren–who obviously knows what she’s talking abou–pretty much lit the fire under my (currently very sore) butt to seriously think about adding in some strength work. Since I’m so close to Boston, I don’t want to try anything new now that could mess up my training. But once April is over and there aren’t any major races on the horizon, I think this could be the perfect summer project. (So I don’t forget, I wrote it down for my May goal of the month in my Believe I Am journal.) Hopefully writing it down will make it happen!

Who knows, lifting might just be the missing piece I need toward breaking into the 3:1X’s!

Here’s what others had to say on Twitter:

QUOTE OF THE POST: “To be a good runner, you must first be a good athlete.” – Jay Johnson 

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