comfort zones, and strength training

Last night Last week, I found myself in the middle of the gym floor feeling absolutely confused and overwhelmed. I have been doing some form of strength training since I was a freshman on my high school track team; however, I have never really enjoyed the process. I enjoy being satisfied after doing a workout composed of something other than running, because that satisfaction has proven difficult to find at times. I enjoy knowing that I lifted and did injury prevention exercises. I’m starting to realize that the process actually can be fun. It’s finding the right things to do that will satisfy the types of exercise I crave that I’m stumbling over.


If someone asked me to give them a list of track workouts to prepare him for a particular event, or just to switch things up, I would have no problem. I have a list already ready in my head at all times. Ask me to spend a half hour in the gym doing exercises that are stimulating and that work all the right things for myself as a marathon runner and triathlete? Blank. No answer. Besides what I already have been doing, of course. Which brings me to the realization that I am out of my comfort zone in the gym. Among other locations, but let’s focus on the gym.

White and silver skeletons of machinery with stacks of weighted plates. Kettlebells that are way heavier than they look: balls with handles that I’m not sure about due to the smattering of intimidating “do-it-this-way-not-that-way” articles that pop up left and right.bosu Dumbbells I’ve always used, but maybe I could use something else? Stackable box platforms that look too easy without adding height and too hard when I add it. Pull-up bars that don’t seem to put my shoulders in the right position. Other bars that look like pull-up bars but might not be? The back extension contraption that pinpoints my weakness and makes me tired without even bringing any weight onto it. The machine with arms I can pull in any direction I want: so many angles to put the arms! So many directions I can pull the handles! Medicine balls I can use for jump squats…but lots of other things too, right? But I never know. It’s a ball. So many options. TRX cables. Don’t even get me started on TRX cables. Bosu balls: I could use the ball side, or the flat side. Stand on either side, or get down on my hands on either side.

Now I’m overwhelmed again. It’s like when try to shop somewhere for clothes when I have a new style trend brewing (which I thought I’ve made up myself, every time…so frustrating), only to find that they have everything I’ve thought about buying, but the outfits are all spread out and I have to think on my feet to combine articles of clothing into the work of art I’ve been craving in my mind. I know everything I need to get the exact workout I want is there on the gym floor, but the possibilities are so endless I get a little overwhelmed sometimes. I also know it’s good to switch things up…and I also know I don’t want to get too crazy and do anything detrimental to my training without knowing.

Confession: I started writing this post last Tuesday but had to pause because I had to meet people for a run. I have since actually come up with a few effective, new things to do in the gym! They mostly involve jumping, because I could use some more explosive strength (just because), and because I want to mimic the pounding my quads will take going downhill at Boston.

Anyone out there have a go-to gym exercise for strength and stability they want to share? I’m willing to try almost anything!

Fun fact: when I tried to search for “pull up cartoons” I got a lot of “say no to sag” photos, making fun of guys who wear their jeans low. Please. Don’t do that.