A friend recently teased me (very gently) when I said something about how ‘my trainer will help me work up a marathon plan.’ I had to giggle sheepishly because I felt so bourgie saying it, but man, it’s been so worth it. I haven’t lost gobs of weight or anything, but I do feel firmer and more toned and my running is definitely improving. b

After a summer of pain thanks to an unhappy IT band (and some physical therapy that showed me just how weak my hips and core were), I decided to get serious about strength training last fall. To me, that meant shelling out the cash to work with a professional who could get me on the right track.

  • I always worried about doing the exercises correctly – my years in classes at various gyms taught me to correctly do things like bicep curls, but I was out of my depths with anything more complicated. Deadlifts? Squats? I had no idea how my form was.
  • I didn’t have the slightest idea what exercises were best for my sport. I knew I needed core and hip strength, and I had the PT exercises I had been assigned, but those weren’t really especially challenging after a few weeks. I was ready for the next step.
  • I may have mentioned this before, but I really, really dislike lifting weights. I find it incredibly dull, even with music or an audiobook or podcast to keep my brain engaged. Having someone to work with has been an incredible boon. Though this is absolutely the shallowest and silliest reason to hire a trainer, it has made me work harder to try to find a gym buddy for weights.

Since starting to lift heavy things more regularly, I’ve found that my endurance and recovery are miles better. I no longer want to take a huge nap every time I run 10 miles and I am much, much less sore the day afterward.

I feel more stable through my core and am no longer so tight in the hips or the IT band. It’s not a miracle or anything – I’m still pretty tight and have to foam roll regularly – but I have significantly less soreness. I’m not using my hip flexors to stabilize me as I run anymore – my core and glutes are able to do much more of that work, which is what they’re supposed to do.

What do I do? Lots various types of squats, lunges, crunches. I was surprised by my trainers focus on upper back and shoulder work, but I’ve found that paying off a great deal in my running posture. So that’s a lot of rows, lateral raises, and shoulder presses. It’s really tough, and I still don’t like doing it, but the payoff has been amazing. I just have to make sure I don’t drop it as I get into marathon training.