What Am I?

I like to put myself into neat little categories. In fact, I like to put everything into categories. Ever since I was little, I’ve been putting things into lists (no joke, one of my favorite pass times when I was little was writing lists… ask my mom), into compartments, separating things.

I’m an athletic trainer. I’m a Mainer. I’m a Northeastern Husky (Husky pride!) I’m an Emerson Lion (Rawr). I’m an athlete. I’m a blonde. I’m a 30-something. I’m a wife. I’m a daughter.

I get frustrated when I can’t put myself into a category, like realizing that I fall somewhere in the middle of being introverted and extroverted. Why don’t I fit neatly into one or the other?

I’m a weight lifter.

I’m a runner. (*cough, cough*)

But I can’t really be both, can I?

I’ve been lifting weights seriously for about 4-5 years now, and I love it. I love everything about it, from the anticipation of a big lift to the feeling after completing a dead lift PR. I love the weight room, the strength progress, and the powerful feeling that comes from lifting almost twice my body weight from the ground. I love the feeling of the barbell in my hands, the weight of a heavy set of dumbbells. This summer, as I was running and training for Falmouth, I missed the weight room dearly. I was able to do some strength workouts with the equipment that we have at home (Kettlebells, pull up bar, rings, sand bag), but it just wasn’t the same as hitting the weight room.

And then this month I finally got back in there. I eased in with some upper body and full body lift days, nothing too heavy as I was getting closer to my race and needed everything in me to finish seven miles. Last weekend I finally put the bar across my back for some extremely light barbell squats, and I could hardly walk the next day. The pain was both exciting and humbling, as I was finally lifting again, but my work sets were done with a weight that is less than 50% of my max. (Yikes).

And then what did I do the next day? I went for a run. I am no longer training for a race; I no longer have to run during my free time on the weekends. Yet this past Sunday, I woke up and headed out for a 4 mile run, because it just felt natural and felt like what I should be doing. What I had been doing all summer. I’ve realized that I kind of like running, to a certain extent. I like getting out there on a beautiful day to run 3-4 miles. I find it calming and energizing at the same time, which is pretty awesome. I’ve developed a new appreciation for it — maybe that will last, and maybe it won’t, but for now I’m enjoying runs every now and again.

And then this week at stadiums, I crushed my PR for a full-stadium run by almost 3 minutes. That was all due to the run training I’ve been doing all summer. I feel lighter, I feel faster, and I feel good. But I don’t necessarily feel strong right now, and I miss that.

This has all left me with a bit of a fitness-identity crisis. I’m not quite sure where I fit in, or where I want to fit in. I know very well that distance running takes away from muscle and strength gains, an I don’t want that.  But I also know that going back to just weight room workouts (which I pretty much need to do if I want to train for a powerlifting meet) may leave me feeling slow and labored at stadium runs, and I don’t want that either. So there’s got to be somewhere in the middle, but I’ve spent so long on the strength training end of the spectrum, it’s difficult for me to creep back toward the middle.

I’m never going to be a distance runner, training for marathons and casually going out for 10 mile runs, but as a weight lifter/future power lifter, is it ok if I occasionally want to go out and run 3 or 4 miles? I know that it’s okay, that there are no rules governing what I do for my workout, but this is a different mind set than I’ve had for the past few years. For me, running has been hill sprints and stadiums, that’s it. And I do love both of those, but I’ve had some fun adding in traditional running as well.

And as I said before — this feeling may not even last, not when the roads turn icy and my safest option is the treadmill. At that point, 4 miles probably won’t seem quite so appealing.  So while I’m not really sure what exactly I want to do at this point, I know that what I don’t want to do is pigeon-hole myself into one category just for the sake of it. I am a weight lifter. I also enjoy running sometimes. And until one severely takes away from the other, I think I’m ok with being somewhere in the middle.

I’m a fitness enthusiast. I’m a strong woman. I’m competitor.

One of these days, I may compete as a power lifter. And at that time, I might have to stop running to compete at my highest level. Then again, maybe next summer I’ll train for Falmouth again, and lean more toward the running end of the spectrum. I’m okay with leaving things up in the air, because in the end I think the most important part of fitness is doing what makes you happy. Doing whatever feeds my hunger for competition and success is what I will stick with. For now, that’s a combination of strength training and running. And that’s ok.

 

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “What Am I?

  1. Who says we have to classify ourselves? I think it’s great that you do both!

    I couldn’t even begin to put myself in a category. I’m a little bit of everything (and also a lot of nothing – my exercise motivation has seriously plummeted haha).

  2. I have found that I will run more between March and August and then focus more on weights from September to February, mostly due to the weather. In the spring and summertime, I want to be outdoors soaking up the sun and good weather, but when winter hits I’m very content staying indoors and working up a sweat 🙂

  3. I say, do what makes you happy and if you like running in the summer with no pressure and worry, do that, if then in the winter the weight room calls you back great! Either way you’re still balancing a healthy lifestyle with doing something that makes you happy! That’s a win win in my books! Great honest post!

  4. I feel like I can weigh in on this as I’m going through the same thing! For the past four weeks or so, I’ve been running two, sometimes three, times per week. Only one of those is a “long” run (4-5 miles). I’m doing the cardio to a) assist with my weight loss and b) because I’ve remembered how peaceful and calming it can be for my mind. I only find it interferes with my lifting if I do it within 24 hours before squatting or deadlifting, so I either do it immediately after lifting or on alternative days. Also, if I don’t eat enough on these days, my recovery suffers, so I’ve been cycling my carbs to be higher on cardio days (I can’t believe I actually have a “cardio day” haha!) than lifting days. I’m less than three weeks out from my next competition, and I’m not worried about it interfering with my strength – I don’t do any strenuous exercise in the week leading up to competition. I say do what makes you feel good and makes you happy!

    • All good points, and I’m honestly relieved that you’re going through something similar! I think it’s just my fear of one taking too much away from the other — which is why I think it’s key to keep the running to a certain limit. 3-5 miles is pretty comfortable for me as well, I would worry that consistent runs too much longer than that would run too much into my training. Good luck in your competition, I know you’re going to kill it!!

  5. I think you’re a “fit chick”- which is a fun category to be in. Sometimes my fitness friends have referred to me (lovingly) as a “fitness w****” because I run, lift, do yoga, and go to group fitness classed. One of those things only a good friend can call you;-)

  6. Interesting post! I, too, find it hard to put myself in all categories. There just isn’t enough time in the day to be really strong in all areas, right? I think finding a balanced approach is best and going with what you’re feeling on that particular day/week/month. I go through spurts where I just want to weight lift, other times when I want to run and other times (most of the time) I want to focus on cross training in the group fitness atmosphere. Forcing yourself into one particular kind of workout because it’s part of your “plan” isn’t always the best answer… a random day here and there doing something else is sometimes just what you need to get yourself back on track 🙂

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