Kathleen’s Health-Changing Journey from Runner to Strength Enthusiast!

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

It is MID SUMMER in Austin, Texas, and I still always look forward to returning to this fun city from any destination!
After a week of vacation I would love to share with you some great information that I found and my thoughts on it.

Having been a runner most of my life, it is only in the last 7 or so years that I have actively and regularly strength trained with weights and bodyweight. I have always been active on the lake skiing, which requires pulling strength, but besides that I was not regularly doing much in the way of strength training.

It occurred to me over vacation sitting on the beach having my second vodka tonic that over the past few years, my vacations have become so much more pleasant! I get up a little later than usual and dive in to the activities that are available wherever I am — fun activities. This was not always the case. For SO many years — mainly in my 30’s and 40’s — I felt the need to get up early on vacation and go run down the road, pounding my feet down the concrete path before I could enjoy my day. This would make me feel “better” about myself, but many times it would interrupt time that should have been spent enjoying the morning on the beach, or enjoying the local activities, or the people I was with. I remember many times getting up to run at 5 am if I had an early flight to catch to offset the travel day of sitting. Needless to say, doing that for 40 years became very boring and also was not great for my joints — mainly my knees — because I was not strengthening the muscles around my joints and knees.

The epiphany I had was realizing that once you build long lean muscle doing resistance training, your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) GREATLY INCREASES, so while I am now sitting on the beach, I am BURNING MORE CALORIES THAN I EVER WAS in my 30’s, 40’s and even my 20’s. So, not only does resistance training increase lean muscle mass which burns more calories, but as your muscle mass increases and your % body fat decreases, you will achieve a leaner and more toned YOU.

For those of you who like to hear the research to back up these claims, here’s the  factual information to back this up that inspired my recent epiphany:

“Strength training, in general is great for the body. It is great for the bones and overall athleticism. Everything we do in life involves having to pull or lift things. So, not just for body strength, it is important to know how to move things around correctly. The monotonous pounding of running ALONE will not carry well into older age. It will keep the cardio-vascular system healthy, as long as diet is also healthy, but eventually, the body ADAPTS and tightens. Shoulders round, knees start to hurt, hips ache, joints get sore. That’s not because of running–running is GREAT–it is because you ONLY ran. The entire body has to be attended to and preserved. It is important to run, but the other STRENGTH exercises that BALANCE THE BODY are equally crucial.” -David de Leon, “Lifting for Life,” Austin Fit Magazine


People lose about 20 PERCENT of their muscle mass between the ages of 40 and 60! By age 70, muscle mass decreases by 40 PERCENT and STRENGTH BY 30 PERCENT. Loss of muscle mass is called Sarcopenia, which can result in diabetes, falls and injuries, muscle and joint pain, bone loss and DECREASED QUALITY OF LIFE. Could being strong be the fountain of youth?? Not sure, but it sure is more fun being strong!”
-Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports

AGING IS NOT A REASON TO SLOW DOWN ATHLETICALLY. As early as your teens and 20’s, maintaining a dedicated fitness routine is the way to stay at a healthy weight, be strong and sculpted and build stamina while creating a rock-solid foundation to prevent BODY BREAKDOWNS IN LATER YEARS. As we move into our 30’s and 40’s, RESISTANCE TRAINING becomes increasingly important since we naturally LOSE MUSCLE MASS as hormones shift and lifestyles become less “intense”, says M. Olson, Ph. D, FACSM, Professor of Exercise Science at Auburn University. “In our 40’s MUSCLE STRENGTH AND LEAN MUSCLE MASS BEGIN TO LESSEN. With age comes a loss of muscle elasticity and opportunity for injury. Most importantly, while METABOLISM NATURALLY SLOWS IN WOMEN 40 AND OLDER, IT IS NOT THE ABSOLUTE. “Despite what many think, OUR METABOLISM DOES NOT HAVE TO DECREASE WITH AGE IF WE EXERCISE REGULARLY AND VIGOROUSLY,” says Reyna Franco, MS, RDN, CSSD.


Challenging the body with high intensity bouts followed by a recovery period increases fat burning, lean muscle, and overall cardio vascular health. Why it works? This is really amazing:  “New research reveals that high intensity interval training (HIIT) actually supercharges your body on a microscopic level enabling the mitochondria, your cells’ powerhouses, to BURN FAT MORE EFFICIENTLY. Doing 10 60 second sprints, each followed by 75 seconds of recovery, 3 times a week, appears to do MORE FOR YOUR MUSCLES THAN 10 STRAIGHT HOURS OF STEADY JOGGING,” according to a study in The Journal of Physiology.


It has been proven in multitudes of studies that CARDIO is so important for our Cardio Vascular health, and the BEST way to do cardio is through INTERVAL TRAINING, no matter what age you are.

I hope this motivates you to wake up in the morning and get going!!  Strength and Cardio Combos can be done ANYWHERE! Push ups and sprints on the beach? Burpees in the hotel room? Or igniting with us here in Austin!

Just remember to get up and “LIVE LIKE SOMEONE LEFT THE GATE OPEN!”

Keep moving!

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3 thoughts on “Kathleen’s Health-Changing Journey from Runner to Strength Enthusiast!

  1. Pingback: 3 of My Favorite Strengthening Exercises | the iGnite blog

  2. Pingback: 5 STRATEGIES TO TRAIN FEARLESSLY NOW & FOREVER | the iGnite blog

  3. Pingback: Gratitude for our Ungratifying Traits | the iGnite blog

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