Making Lemonade Out of My Lemons

By Eva Solomon
CEO, Epic Races

Two big things happened to me in 2017. An injury caused me to take most of the year off of running, and I turned 50. I was prepared for turning 50 and knew exactly how I wanted to celebrate, I was not at all prepared for injury. Training and competition have always been a part of me, and it was important for me to figure out a way to keep that part of me. I’m all about making lemonade out of my lemons so I didn’t dwell on what I couldn’t do, I focused on what I could do and decided to start lifting weights. Since I like to train for a competition as opposed to training just to train, I looked around and lo and behold I found the perfect competition: The Michigan Senior Olympics Powerlifting Competition. I signed up and started training.

Aside from wanting to win my age group, I had three goals in mind:
1.To get stronger
2. Run faster once healed and back to running regularly
3. Prevent further injury

I also needed to learn how to lift properly and figure out how to fit this new form of training into my schedule. I was accustomed to being able to just leave my front door and get in a good one-hour workout. I headed over to American Home Fitness to get educated and get some new home equipment so I would be sure to not miss a workout. In fact, as I’m writing this, I am on a plane coming back from the Triathlon Business International Conference. I will be landing too late to go to the gym, but after missing 4 days of weight training, I know I will be able to squeeze in 20 minutes at home.

The powerlifting competition is benching and deadlift so I started a program focusing on “the big 3”: squat, deadlift, and bench press. While squatting is not part of the competition, I think it’s important for the deadlift as well as for a balanced weightlifting program. I know what you’re thinking. These exercises are totally intimidating, will create bulk, and there is no way they will help improve running. Well, my experience shows that this is a myth! I started benching 2 days per week, doing squats one day per week, deadlifts one day per week, and focused on core and smaller muscles 2 days per week with one day off.

After 3 months of weight training my strength increased by 50%. I missed swimming, biking, and running terribly, but seeing these gains were exciting and encouraging.

I continued the weight training along with physical therapy at Probility Physical Therapy (of course!) and mid-May of 2017 I felt ready to try to start running again. I did a run/walk program for several months and in October decided to enter the American Home Fitness 5K which is the 5K associated with the Detroit Free Press Marathon. To my surprise, I ran the fastest 5K I have run in 5 years and I finished 3rd in my age. I felt strong and injury-free!

I am now gearing up for the Michigan Senior Olympic Powerlifting Competition which will be held on February 12. Stay tuned to hear how that goes!

I encourage you to integrate some sort of weight training into your training plan. It is very important to do the exericises correctly and to always have a spotter when lifting heavy weight. Please be sure to hire a trainer and/or educate yourself on how to do the exercises correctly. And, of course, always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Here is how I started:

Day 1 (Monday):
Bench: 4 sets of 6 reps
Incline Bench: 4 sets of 6 reps
Dips: 3 sets of 10 reps
Triceps extension: 3 sets of 8 reps
Planks: 3 rounds for maximum time possible

Day 2 (Wednesday):
Squat: 3 sets of 8 reps
Single leg hip thrust: 3 sets of 12 reps
Leg press: 3 sets of 8 reps
Overhead press: 3 sets of 10 reps
Single leg Romanian deadlift: 3 sets of 10 reps

Day 3 (Saturday):
Deadlift: 3 sets of 5 reps (Start at 15 lbs. heavier than your starting squat weight.)
Swimmers: 3 sets of 10 reps
Single-arm Row: 3 sets of 12 reps
TRX ab workout: Pike/Plank/Side Plank

Videos to get you started:

How to Deadlift

How to Bench Press

How to Squat

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