Training for Endurance Racing – Kate’s Story

by  in Build muscle, Lifestyle, Strength Training For Beginners

Kate is a 36 years old New Zealander, a mother of two and has been in Hong Kong for eight years. She has been training at Real Athletic Workouts (RAW) with Louise McCallum for twelve months.  Kate has made tremendous progress in terms of added muscle mass and strength. She is an avid Endurance Racing enthusiast, who came to us looking to improve her performance.

I have been in the personal training industry for 18 years and was very impressed with her dedication and commitment in the weight room. I wanted to ask her a few questions about her experience training at RAW:

What made you reach out to RAW for help?

In 2014 I began entering a few trail running races and got hooked on the sport. In 2015, I decided that I wanted to complete a trail ultramarathon. I was fortunate enough to begin training with the North Face TRA team and through that I qualified for the North Face Hong Kong 100 50km race, which is one of the toughest courses in Hong Kong with a 3,000 meters cumulative ascent and descent over some very technical trail. I had just 5 months to get ready for this Endurance Racing challenge.

I am a researcher and I had read everything I could get my hands on regarding training for ultra distances and endurance racing. I understood on an intellectual level that strength training would enhance my performance over long distances, especially on Hong Kong’s technical terrain. However, I didn’t know how to start a strength program on my own. I was a total newbie to weight training and I had scarcely even touched a barbell before. Frankly, I found the idea of going into a gym and picking up weights quite intimidating!

How did you think RAW could enhance your training for Endurance Racing?

When I first began training at RAW, I just wanted to get stronger for the upcoming endurance racing event I had signed up to. I wasn’t there specifically to change the way I looked (though this has been a nice side effect!). My goals were purely sports-related. However, I quickly found that there were other benefits to strength training.

What are 3 things training at RAW helped with for race preparation:

  • Mobility

    – I had typically poor mobility in the squat when I first started training, but over the space of a few months, I saw big improvements in my form and range of motion. Along with stronger quads, I had better hip and ankle mobility, which is very beneficial when you are climbing a lot of steep trails and steps.

  • Muscular Endurance

    – It’s a no-brainer that an endurance racing athlete’s muscles must have the ability to keep them going over extremely long distances. By strength training, I was able to stress my muscles in a controlled manner and allow my body to make the necessary adaptations so that I wouldn’t have to suffer unnecessarily during the actual race.

  • Developing Mental Toughness

    – strength training as a total novice was a shock to the system. It was hard and it often hurt and I was frequently required to dig deep and push through when I thought I just couldn’t do anymore. It was good preparation for the hurt of running 50kms! During every training session at RAW, I reminded myself that a little suffering now could save me a lot of suffering on the course.


How did you feel during/post race?

 I felt great going into the race. I had very few nerves because I knew I had done everything that I could to prepare for it. Compared to the people I trained with, I am not a fast runner. I felt like I was not in their league. However, I knew that the strength training I had done at RAW,specifially for this endurance racing event, would provide me with the stamina and endurance to keep up my target pace, especially when I began to tire in the second half. I felt particularly strong in the final two sections – which were also the most challenging – and I was able to pass many runners who would absolutely kick my ass over shorter distances or in a road marathon. Never once during the entire 50km did I suffer any pain, cramping or extreme fatigue. And I finished an hour faster than my goal time!

The Race

Louise has always been very professional and her friendly but no-nonsense training style works well for me. She’s always right there, making adjustments to my form, encouraging me to squeeze out those final reps! She is genuinely excited to see her client’s progress such as achieving goals or setting personal bests in the gym. As I come to the end of my first 12 months training at RAW, my goals and circumstances have changed and Louise has been able to adapt my program to reflect that. She has been very flexible and able to adapt my training very quickly when I have been sick or injured – even when I came in with a broken toe the month before my race!

I believe there is huge value in having a good trainer who can help you set realistic goals and design a strength training program to meet your specific needs  Progress must always be measurable and I think that many people fail to achieve their goals in the gym is because variables are not tracked and there is no accountability. At RAW progress is always tracked and seeing strength gains and changes in body composition always provides great motivation to show up and keep working hard.

RAW Personal TrainingTraining for Endurance Racing – Kate’s Story