Strong not skinny. A phrase frequently thrown around and reinforced. A phrase that couldn’t be truer, but do people really know what this involves? I see so many people use the hashtag #strongnotskinny and wonder if they know what is truly involved in the journey from skinny to strong.
Being strong is every athlete’s dream. Skinny is no longer something we thrive for, as it is associated with one thing. Injury. The athlete’s nightmare. It took me a long time to realise the importance of being strong. Skinny is now something I never wish to be, and something I do my upmost to avoid. So, what is really involved in ensuring you are the strongest version of you, you can be?
Obviously the most important thing is nutrition. Calories in must be equal or greater than calories out. Exercise is never about getting yourself in to defecit. If you expend more than you take in, you are undoubtedly going to lose weight and this is not sustainable if you are a wanting to keep running for a long time into the future. This is something I took a while to get my head around. As a previously skinny runner, I believed I didn’t need to eat lots of food to be as fast as I could. I believed the lighter I was, the faster I would run. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. IT IS NOT TRUE! Whilst it may initially be effective, as little as 6-months down the line, you realise, it is unsustainable. As a skinny athlete I lacked energy and strength. I was prone to injury, and it sadly took me getting injured for me to realise. I look back on myself now and realise the stupidity of my thought process. If I can achieve one thing now, it is to make every runner out there realise that food is fuel, not foe. Being a strong athlete is the best athlete you can be.
Another key factor in becoming a strong runner, something a lot of long-distance runners initially fear, is... the Gym! The gym couldn’t be more beneficial. It is no longer something I fear, but something I look forward to. We may not need huge muscles, but efficiency is so important and strength work helps us achieve this. The gym also fends off our enemy. Yes, it is injury again. Since my injury I have learnt to value the gym and what it brings me. Core work, stability, mobility and strength work have all helped me to become stronger and play a part in my daily training. If every aspect of our body is stronger it will be less vulnerable to injury. We should not be afraid to face light weights! The stronger we are, the more resistant we are to injury and the faster we can be. I have learnt how vital strength work is to staying injury free. This doesn't have to include weights though, it rarely does for me. If I’m not strong, how do I ever expect to sustain a long period of training without getting injured?
It takes a lot of mental strength and persistence to move from skinny to strong, but the benefits make it all worthwhile. It is a decision I had to make myself. I was told constantly that I was too skinny to be a strong athlete, but it was not until I allowed myself to accept this that the change was possible. I initially didn't believe I would be faster the stronger and bigger I was, but I am! Becoming a strong runner is a mental challenge, you need to want it yourself, and know the benefit it will have on your health for it to happen. It won’t be easy, but once you have made the decision, stick to it. The barrier between strong and skinny can be very fine. The point at which you lie also varies from person to person. We all have different body shapes and different weights that allow us to be the strongest version of ourselves. The most important thing is to be healthy, happy, and strong. However this may look on you, it will allow you to be the best athlete you can be. I have definitely learnt this. Strong is definitely the new skinny.
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I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!