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3 Ways Kettlebells Improved My 5k Race Time

I have trained with kettlebells for over 4 years now. Kettlebells improved my 5k race time, no doubt.

Running isn’t something I enjoy, but it is how I got back into an active lifestyle years ago. The running part made me want to die. All I wanted was for the training day to be OVER. That feeling at the end was awesome which is what kept me running, day in and day out.

Later, I learned a better way to get more powerful at running! In turn, I was faster. And, more importantly, I enjoyed training!

Live and learn, right?!

I created Simply Kettlebells as a way to share my love for kettlebell training with women who are intimidated to try kettlebells. I know I was at first! I’ve reaped many benefits from stepping out of my comfort zone and giving them a try. Below, I map out some of the benefits that kettlebells brought to my running game and how using kettlebells improved my 5k race time.

Note: Originally, the blog posted below was published as a guest post written by me on jillfit.com and includes a sample kettlebell workout!

By Jill Jacobs

In 2009, I was exclusively a runner. I ran anywhere from 3-6 times per week and I was constantly focused on my next 5k. My continuous goal was to beat my previous time. That was my motivation- beating myself! But honestly, my 5k time remained SLOW and I really didn’t understand why??? I seemed to be training and running ALL.THE.TIME.

Enter kettlebells.

I began training with kettlebells in 2011.

I also QUIT running.

I’m certainly not suggesting that you quit running. I think we all need to do the exercises that we enjoy and that we will ACTUALLY do! For me, I saw how kettlebells offered me a TWO-IN-ONE workout- both cardio and strength training, together in one package. As a busy mom that homeschools her two boys, this was a huge bonus that kettlebell training brought to the table for me. It was a no-brainer.

After training with kettlebells for 6 months, I decided to enter a 5k just for kicks and giggles. Surprisingly, I set a new PR with a crazy better time than before! I had decreased my time from 2009 of 32:21 to 25:32 just 2 short years later!!! Yeah! Who knew? I even won my age group against many other women who were “daily runners”. And who shaves nearly 7 minutes off of a short distance run like 5 kilometers? Truly, kettlebells improved my 5k race time!

THAT is what kettlebells can do for YOU, too!

This experience proved to me that kettlebell training truly “speaks for itself”.

Kettlebells Improved My 5k Race Time

How can this happen? How does one quit running and yet improve their 5k time with a round ball of iron with a handle on top? Let me explain…

Here are the top 3 ways that Kettlebells Improved My 5k Race Time (and will yours too!):

1) Kettlebells increase your power.
Through ballistic movements like swings and snatches, kettlebell training can truly improve your power and explosiveness in running. The swing is a hip hinge, hip dominant movement. The Russian kettlebell swing is well known for building a nice posterior chain (hello glutes and hammies!) giving you the famous kettle “booty.” And who doesn’t want that!

Having increased power from a strong posterior chain will certainly increase your speed and endurance during your run!

2) Kettlebells increase your strength.
Kettlebells can be utilized for traditional movements like the squat and the deadlift. Because of the kettlebell’s unique shape and size, kettlebell trainees are required to use a lot of force, core strength, and coordinated movement which in turn increases overall body strength. The control needed throughout kettlebell exercises magnifies your core strength for what I call a kettle “CORE.” 🙂

Having a strong backside and a strong core is a great way to improve your performance and decrease your chances for injury in ANY sport!

3) Kettlebells increase your endurance.
Kettlebells have the unique ability to combine both cardio and strength training in one. Utilizing the same explosive movements that increase your power, your endurance will also increase as you advance with kettlebell training. Your ability to swing a higher number of reps, to swing heavier bells, and by tracking your 5-minute snatch test results (fun, fun!!) can all help to measure your endurance progress. Your progress will also be revealed through decreased race times!

Your Quickie KB Circuit:

Set your timer for 20 minutes and go through the circuit AMRAP (as many rounds as possible):

  • 5 Swing Cleans (right)
  • 5 Squat Presses (right)
  • 5 Swing Cleans (left)
  • 5 Squat Presses (left)
  • 5 Rows each, R then L arm
  • 20 Kettlebell Swings

Do this circuit 1-2x/week for best results!

If you are a runner, I can tell you from experience that cross training (with kettlebells) will not only build a toned, leaner physique, but it will improve your race times and performance. The kettlebell has proven to be the perfect tool for me. It completely changed my physique and my performance, I’ll never go back!

If you’ve been on the fence about trying kettlebell training, I highly recommend my signature program, Simply Kettlebells. It’s a super accessible program for beginners with progressions throughout the 8-week program as you improve.

Kettlebells Improved My 5k Race Time

xo -Jill

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