For the past many years I have been doing some form of strength training but never really changed my routine until I started working with trainers off and on a couple years ago. Last summer I started working with my new trainer who I was a little skeptical about at first, he will be the first to admit he is not a runner or anything close to an endurance athlete. I wasn't sure how we'd relate but since he seemed to know his stuff (head trainer) I gave him a shot and I'm glad I did. I can honestly say I kind of enjoy this now! Often I am the only woman in the weight room, like yesterday (yes Christmas) it was 5 guys and me. I have learned another form of stress relief through lifting, I mean it has to feel good to lift heavy!
I was having a conversation with another runner friend about weight training and why she won't do it, I am sure there are others feeling the same so here is my attempt to break some myths.
I will get "man arms": Women lack the testosterone to build huge amounts of bulk unless doing power lifting or with a little "help". Women typically have less muscle tissue than men so building this size is less likely to happen. Women can develop sculpted muscle with strength and endurance.
My chest will get even smaller: As someone who has always been small chested and now after nearly 2 years of breastfeeding is barely filling an A anymore! The weightlifting has actually helped to build extra pectoral muscle giving the illusion of a bigger chest and without the flab.
It will interfere with cardio workouts: For any runner weights will supplement and improve cardio workouts if done correctly. My focus for strength training is mostly endurance ad power to help with running. I do a lot of super sets combining multiple exercises together. I also focus on core strength. Yes you need to time the weights with key running workouts or races but with planning it is easy to manage.
I can't do the free weights: Most gyms will give free introduction sessions with a trainer, take advantage of this and learn. If you are able work with a trainer or a friend who is knowledgeable in weight training. It is funner to work out with someone else anyways.
Women should focus on light weights with high reps: Without resistance and weight to challenge your muscle changes will not happen. Strength is gained through pushing beyond your limits. This was part of my problem; I was so set in my routine and lighter weights and wondered why the improvement stopped. Now I am constantly increasing and changing routines and see the results.
Recently I started running with a woman who is my opposite: new to running but high intensity weight lifter and I am learning from her. Actually I think we are teaching each other as I convince her to run through use of strength analogies and she helps me understand the culture of strength training.
I am hoping that with weight training 3 days a week my running will improve and I can stay injury free. I am also loving the power I feel when I lift heavier and do more than I expected. I never thought I'd be bench pressing more than the bar (up to 70 lbs) or doing pull ups on my own. Working out with my trainer has convinced me I can do more and shown me how I mentally defeat myself.