DR. WALLACE: I'm a 17-year-old female distance runner, and I'm told that I'm pretty good. I will be a senior this coming September and will continue to work out on my own over the summer. But one thing bothers me: My coach told me to work out with weights to increase my strength and endurance.
My problem is that I am on the slim side and don't want to get big bulky muscles in my legs that would make me look freaky. My coach said females don't get bulky muscles from lifting weights, but I'm not so sure. What's the truth? I love running, but I don't want that extra edge if I wind up looking like an NFL football linebacker. — Running Girl, Bend, Oregon
RUNNING GIRL: Females have 10% more fat than men in their total body weight, which makes it physiologically impossible to build the same muscle mass as males. Also, women don't produce the male sex hormone testosterone, which promotes muscle growth.
The majority of female distance runners do indeed use weights to increase strength and endurance. If you do add lifting weights to your workouts, make sure your parents contact a respected, local personal trainer to get you onto the proper weight-training program. You will want to start slowly, of course, and increase your weight resistance gradually. Have your coach interact with your parents and the personal trainer, also. Once you settle on a good program, you can work out at your school to save you the cost of ongoing personalized training. But the expense of one initial meeting is very much worth that cost in my opinion, and I trust your parents may agree on this, so discuss this with them.
Also speak with your fellow runners at school, or even excellent runners from other high schools and colleges in your area. They are often willing to help and give solid personal advice, as there is a "fraternity" among excellent athletes who take their sport seriously and are willing to put in work to better themselves.
You may gain the double benefit of improving your times and making additional, new friends who share your passion for distance running.
MY BIRTH MOTHER IS DIFFICULT!
DR. WALLACE: I'm 18 and never knew my parents. All my life, I've lived in foster homes or in a children's home. I had a dream to someday find my parents, and my dream came true when I discovered that my mother lives in Santa Barbara, California, with her third husband.
I graduated from high school in Virginia, and then I moved West to be with her. Mom was excited to see me at first, and I was ecstatic to find my birth mother and move in with her. I have been living with Mom for several months now — my real father has passed away — and things, unfortunately, have become really uptight here recently. My mom never has time for me and then complains about everything I do. She's not overly mean or anything like that; it's more that she acts aloof and treats me like a stranger she can't control. No, I don't feel welcome in my home, even though she says she loves me. I still like and love her, but I'm confused and need your advice on what I should do next. — Anonymous, Santa Barbara, California
ANONYMOUS: This lady is your biological mother only. You apparently do not fit too well in her home at this point in each of your lives. If you are financially able, go out on your own. Find a compatible roommate if you can, or rent a room from a good, stable family. Of course, it will be a struggle at first, but your freedom and peace of mind are more important to you than being in the tricky situation you find yourself in presently. If you feel comfortable in Santa Barbara, stay there, but don't hesitate to move back east where I'm sure you have more friends and acquaintances, if necessary.
Do stay on good terms with your mother, no matter what. Don't get into any arguments with her or say anything that will upset either of you. If and when you do leave, thank her and give her a big hug. Stay in touch with her. As you ladies grow older, you paradoxically may grow closer emotionally over time.
Be thankful that you found her so that you could get to know her. Do what is best for yourself in the near future, while still keeping the door open to this relationship over the course of the rest of your life.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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