Mary is the strongest girl I’ve ever coached who didn’t show up already strong. I still recall her first ever workout with me in 2018 doing reverse lunges and goblet squats with a 10lb kettlebell. Having met Mary in 7th grade, I’ve seen many phases of her relationship with running, sports, & training. From the girl who was shy about strength training, to the freshman who seemed to run 7min/mi pace every day at practice, to the girl who just wanted to do sprints, to the girl who taught her teammates to lift weights, and the day she sent me a video of her first 225lb deadlift.
Oh, and she’s quite the white water kayaker!
But all is not always bright and sunny in sports. Genetics play a role in much & in my experience over the years, I’ve come to suspect some people are more prone to injury than others. There’s a growing body of research to suggest this. Mary, unfortunately falls on this end of the injury prone spectrum. Her freshman year right before the city championship she had a hip injury show its face right before she had the opportunity to make a potentially big upset. She isn’t one of those athletes that always has something hurting, rather just one new thing that appears that year and takes awhile to make go away. Over the years, she has had to face adversity with this much has at times taken a toll on her emotionally. Periods of frustration, doubt, and, at times, anger. Having periods of time where you can’t train hard to improve while having new teammates show up really fast on day one is frustrating. Plus people you use to beat show up and win against you. It can make people quit.
Mary never quit. She might have cried, but she never quit.
She came to embrace the struggle. She embraced being strong, mentally & physically. Socially, there is still growing acceptance for girls to lift weights and be strong, especially if you are not a girl with a large frame who is naturally strong. The entire process of becoming strong is to temporarily defeat yourself with the resistance, to later emerge stronger.
As you likely have realized from us, strength training is important to recover from, and reduce the likelihood of, an injury. In order to stay competitive and healthy Mary has come to take control of her strength training and running load management. Young runners, especially competitive teen girls, seem to have a high likelihood of running easy days really fast, which can accelerate their chances of an overuse injury.
During a period when she had to cut down her running significantly over a year ago, she started lifting, and getting strong. Very strong. Early in the fall last year she hit a 220lb deadlift at the JCC and sent me a video. I was ecstatic. She’s crushed 235lb deadlifts and has pushed nearly 250lbs on the trap bar.
Sidenote, growing up is realizing that straight bar deadlifts are far more enjoyable than trap bar deadlifts.
Despite all of this, Mary has enjoyed success, making the PIAA state championship in nearly every cross country & track season she’s had. This past fall she hit a new personal best in the cross country 5K in 20:14 & a sub 7:30 pace 10mi at the EQT 10 miler. She’s currently exploring her college options to continue her education and running career. She’s warded off many other potential injuries & is a very skilled and talented kayaker.
She chose the path to showcase her physical, emotional, and mental strength to make the best of her hand. To overcome challenges & win when the environment is pushing her to lose.
Will you take command and win despite the odds?
Or live in a world of “if it wasn’t for” over the years to come.
Let Mary be your inspiration, take the path of strength.