My legs have been a little tired for the past few days, due to lots of running. And carrying around some kettlebells. I don't have a car right now and whenever I want to do a kettlebell or a medicine ball workout in a nearby park, I carry the equipment in my backpack and walk there. This stuff is heavy!
But now when the weather is nice outside, I just need more running in my life.
I love running, I guess I have always loved, from sprints to longer distances. Okay, I was not a fan when we had to run a Cooper test at high school twice every year. If you are not familiar with Cooper test, it simply means running as much as you can as fast as you can during 12 minutes. No matter how good shape you are in, you probably won't enjoy it. It's brutal.
Couple of years ago I was really into marathon and half marathon training and ran at least 10K every single day, a lot of times 20K a day.
Thinking back to these times, all that running had both positive and negative influence on me.
It kept me sane when I was sinking deeper and deeper into my depression. Running was the one and often the only thing that calmed me down and reminded me that I'm actually capable of lot of things. Hey, when your legs can carry you 26,2 miles, you probably can do so many other things as well.
Of course, running was the way of taking care of my physical health. Running gave me friends. It showed me so many places that I had never seen if I didn't run.
The problem was that for me running was the way to control my weight. The whole thing got pretty obsessive. I hardly ever lifted any weights or did any kind of strength training, because I thought the only way to stay fit (or skinny is probably better word) – was running.
I was so scared to put on a single pound, so I ran and ran and ran. A lot of times I would feel exhausted but I wouldn't take rest days. Sometimes my legs would be plain tired and sore when I hit the bed. I would even wake up in the middle of the night because of my legs were aching.
I'm glad that I finally realized, mostly thanks to CrossFit, that running is not the only way of staying in good shape. It's crucial to add some cross training and weight lifting to your training routine to avoid injuries, strengthen your body and simply make working out more interesting.
If you are afraid that you will lose your running speed or endurance if you do a strength or cross training session in place of one or two runs in a week, there's no reason to worry. It won't happen. Quite the opposite, it may improve your running.
Back then I didn't know that but now things are different. If I ever decide to run a half marathon again (I doubt about the full, but half – why not?), I will train smarter. And I definitely incorporate cross training and weight lifting to my runs.
Having said all that, I still do and always will love running. The difference between how I ran before and what I do now is that now my runs are much more fun and I'm not obsessed about the training. I run couple of longer runs a week and incorporate runs into my favorite, 30-minute workouts.
That takes me to a workout that I did couple of days ago and that I'd like to share with you today. The only things you need for this quick and efficient full-body workout are a kettlebell and a place to run.
Here's how to do the exercises of this workout:
1. Kettlebell Swings. First thing to remember about the kettlebell swing is that the most important part of the work is done with your hips. Your hands are only there to hold the kettlebell, but they are not pulling the kettlebell up. Start out with the kettlebell above the knees. With a brisk and compact movement, swing the kettlebell up to your chest level. Keep your back straight and stable all the time. When coming up, contract your glutes and quads and make sure your core is tight. Going down, bring the kettlebell back between your legs. Make sure you control your back also when going down and keep it straight and strong throughout the exercise.
2. Kettlebell Goblet Squats. Grab a kettlebell with two hands and bring it to your chest level, close to the chest. Keeping the kettlebell in place all the time, go to as deep squat as you can. Make sure that your knees won't cave in but are in line with your toes. You may keep your toes pointing straight ahead or turned slightly outwards. Both are okay as long as your toes are following the same line. When going down, push your butt back and go as low as you can, keeping your feet firmly on the ground. If your heels are coming off the floor, don't go any lower.
3. Run. Is there anything to discuss about running? Can't everybody run? Well, there are couple of things you should pay attention to when running sprints. Try to run on the balls of your feet and bring your knees higher to lengthen the range of motion. That way you create a spring-like motion that lets you to move on faster.