Eight and a half years ago I joined a gym and picked up a dumbbell for the first time. I had previously been scared I would ‘bulk up’ or start to look like a body builder if I started lifting weights, but Shane insisted I was wrong and now, many years later, I can confirm that the only change to my body has been slimming down, getting toned and successfully creating shape in my bottom where there was none before. So don’t tell Shane, but he was right. Again.
I had a short interval where I left the gym and popped out for sweet treats (for about a year) but I have been going to my current gym for 5 years, no quitting. It is almost like cleaning my teeth now – I go there on auto-pilot, and feel yucky when I haven’t been.
I like lifting weights because I enjoy feeling strong like Hercules. When your body is strong everything is easier, from the obvious things like carrying the shopping to less obvious things like closing car doors, which I sometimes accidentally slam shut with the force of Xena the Princess Warrior without meaning to.
It has been good for my sanity to measure my health by how much I can carry and lift, rather than what the scales say. Lifting weights has made me mentally stronger because I value my body for something other than how it looks; I value it for the extreme work it can handle, and the nice comfy house it gives my brain and heart to live in.
If you don’t take care of the body you’ve got, where are you going to live?
And I think it is good practice for life, to lift heavy things and put them down again. We all walk around with heavy things every day, but sometimes we forget to put them down. This can lead to you being trapped under a pile of lead weight that you don’t know is even there – a bit like I was or worse.
I have realised that I will need all of the physical and mental benefits I have gained from weight lifting to endure becoming a triathlete. For both my triathlons (Bribie Island in February and Noosa in November 2016) I will need strong legs to power me through the bike and run. Strong arms, back and shoulders will be required to pull me through the ocean. Maintaining good form and stability through all three sections will demand good core strength (through my abs and pelvis). Overall muscular strength will help me to avoid injury. Every weight-lifting session I do now is as much a triathlon training session as when I am actually swimming, biking and running.
It’s a relief to now know that at least one part of my new sport was already well underway before I realised it. A lot of newbies starting out in Triathlons come from a running background, or are cycling fanatics, or strong at swimming. I had none of these things behind me – but I didn’t realise that the physical strength I’d been building for years would turn out to be an advantage of its own. Let’s call it the 5th sport of Triathlon (the fourth being the mash-ups or transitions) and let’s tick it off the list as a ‘natural talent’ because I think in sport that is generally how you refer to any skill that anyone has worked their backside off to achieve.
Let’s hope it turns out to be as useful as I think it will be!