Why? How many times have I heard that question? Why? Why do I want to put myself through the ordeal of hard training & probable injury just so I can lift awkward shaped, seemingly inhumanly heavy weights?
If anyone knows the answer please tell me, because I have no bloody idea!
I can pinpoint the moment my life, or at least my lifestyle changed. 12th February 2014 at 4pm. When the ophthalmologic consultant told me to go straight into A&E, because he feared I had a serious problem with my head and needed an urgent CT scan. To this day, we’re all still slightly befuddled about what the problem really was (it’s a very long story, and one for another day) but the CT & MRI scans found nothing. I never did ask them if they at least found a brain in there. Maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that particular question…
Having had a fairly serious shoulder injury in a car accident 2 years before, I was at the worst level of fitness I’d ever been in my life. Overweight, a pretty heavy smoker and unable to do much in the way of exercise, as everything aggravated my right shoulder.
Cut to early 2015, after giving up smoking, starting to get fit, taking up obstacle running and recovering from yet another injury I joined a gym, with the intention of making some sort of effort to look after myself a bit more. After trying a few places all of whom assumed I wanted to lose weight and pointed me in the direction of the treadmill, it was during the induction to my current gym that one of the coaches turned to me and said ‘Wow, you’ve got the potential to be a real beast!’ She said this in such a positive way, it made me realise that my strength (‘scuse the pun) has always been my ability to lift relatively heavy stuff.
I’ll save the whole journey through the physical & mental challenges of getting fit-ish for another day, but I’m still training at the gym that’s become my 2nd home. I’m still on the curvy side, but I’m fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been.
After taking Olympic lifting classes for a few months, I became interested in powerlifting and discovered amateur strongman. Olympic lifting isn’t for me (waaay too much co-ordination required) but I was drawn to the circus-like appeal of strongman events – lifting massive stones, oversized dumbbells and pulling trucks. Hell yeah I’ll have a go at that!!
I signed up for my first competition recently. It was only £25 and all entrants get a t-shirt. I’ll take part in almost anything if there’s a t-shirt or medal involved. Then it struck me. Hard. Like being hit over the head with one of those giant dumbbells. I NEED TO TRAIN FOR THIS!!! I’ve managed to ‘wing’ a triathlon, 2 long distance swims, several obstacle races and a half marathon. I came pretty much last in all of them and most were for charity, but I can’t just rock up to a strongwoman comp, expecting to lift huge weights over my head without at least putting a bit of effort in beforehand.
So here I am, 4 and a bit months away from competition, 3 and a half weeks into my ‘get Claire strong’ training plan. Thankfully I was already pretty strong to begin with, but in the last few weeks I’ve smashed through all of my previous PB’s, developed a level of muscle mass I’ve never had before and I’m loving every minute. Even if I do occasionally wonder if my coach is trying to kill me.
Claire is a 30-something strongwoman-in-training with a love of obstacle running, target shooting and anything outdoors. She started weightlifting in early 2016, becoming interested in strongwoman and powerlifting later that year, with her first competitions in both disciplines taking place later this year.
By day she works in project management & consultancy and dedicates most of her spare time to training, eating or running through mud!