Linda B: Improving My Race Walking With Strength Training!

Over the next several months I will be doing a series of articles on YOU, and how success can be measured on more things than just the scale or measuring tape.  Linda B is a competitive walker and works very hard to improve her times.  She started doing strength training and eating differently about a year ago to see if she could reduce her times and lose a little weight.  This is her story.

So Linda was there something specific that made you adopt strength training as a part of your program?
Yes.  I was using walking as my exercise for the previous 2 years. I was walking 3-4 miles 3 days during the week and much longer on the weekends, depending on training for half marathon or other races.  I was maintaining my race times, but not losing any weight and staying the same size.  It didn’t seem right.

Has strength training improved your performance?
Yes.  I shaved 15 minutes off my half marathon this past March!  The walks I do the mornings I don’t go to Boot Camp have a much better time.  (I either go to Boot Camp or walk so I wake up the same time each morning)

How important is diet to your training?
VERY IMPORTANT!!  I really didn’t start losing the weight until I embraced the Meal Plan.  That was after 3 months of strength training and I was gaining muscle but not yet losing weight.  It was very life changing for me (and my grocery list!).  My husband and I call it a change to our eating lifestyle instead of “diet.”  Using that perspective and not “banning” anything has helped to stay on track as we don’t beat ourselves up if we have an occasional piece of cake or something.

Did you think diet could make such a big difference in your performance and weight loss?
No, I did not.  But losing 35 pounds in 5 months and keeping it off now for 4 months is awesome for me!  I really liked that I lost 1 to 1.5 pounds a week so it was gradual and makes me think I’ll be keeping it off (as long as I stay away from those carbs, of course!).  I dropped 4 dress sizes and am transitioning my large shirts to mediums.  Of course, some of that is due to the sculpting of my muscles from the weight training.

I used to eat almonds by themselves, chocolate kisses by themselves, and raisins by themselves in large quantities at my desk and not really be satisfied.  Now I put them together (but use semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of kisses) of one cup each per the trail mix recipe and one or two handfuls satisfy! I couldn’t believe the difference it made to eat them together like that.

And I can’t believe how my taste buds are changing to actually like vegetables!  It’s a challenge to find new ways to cook them and to even discover what some vegetables are (my daughter helps a lot in that department!).

What kind of support system do you have?
I couldn’t do either the training or food plan without my husband’s support.  It helps that he gets up a few minutes before I need to (he has to be at work at 6) and that he has embraced the new meals we plan for each week.  (Jeff’s barbeque chicken pizza recipe won him over and it is rare when it doesn’t make it in our list of meals planned each week.)

I’ve passed my one year anniversary now of strength training and feel healthier (besides the weight and size loss).  There’s a difference in my day when I occasionally skip the training or walking.  I don’t feel as energized or get as much accomplished. That is an inner support system that gets me up in the morning because, when the alarm goes off, I think I can sleep in an extra hour but is it really worth it?  And the answer is, Get Up!  That is more worth it!

Also, I have friends and made new friends at the time slot I usually go to.  If I miss, I’m asked why just like I ask them.  We all like seeing each other there and new faces, too!

Can you physically do things now that you couldn’t do prior to strength training?
Yes.  I can lift a box of paper onto the cart now (I think there are 10 reams in a box).  I can also push the cart with 5 boxes of the paper instead of just 3.  My upper arms have always been weak and shapeless but now they have defined muscles.  When they started to shape and I would brush against one, I couldn’t help making my family laugh by making comments out loud about the fact I had muscles there.

Also, I was really scared of the dead weight bar when I first started.  Now it is so easy to get on my shoulders to add weight to my squats or to use the right position and my hips to lift the bar correctly.

Do you have any advice for people thinking of adding strength training to their walking program?
Yes.  Do it!  You will be surprised at what muscles you are not using when walking.  Also, if you walk at a fast pace like I do and experience constant pain in the upper hamstrings like I did, strength training really helps.  My upper hamstrings still let me know they are there, but only occasionally.  That is one side benefit you wouldn’t even think of!

I would like to thank Linda B for sharing her fitness story with us.  I hope everyone looks at her story and see’s two important things.  There is more than one way to get fit and food matters.  I look forward to sharing more of YOUR stories in the future, because YOU guys are the ones who inspire me everyday.

Inspiring You To Accept the Challenge,

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