If you’re like me, you’ve heard you’re “in such great shape” more than once, simply because you run all over the place. While I agree that running definitely helps your fitness and overall well-being, I was definitely surprised to discover just how UNTRUE that statement can be when I decided to take on Kayla Itsines’ Instagram-famous Bikini Body Guides (BBG) program. Sure, during the meaty part of a training cycle, I can run farther and probably faster than the average person, but when it comes to pounding out 10 burpees in a row after a rep of walking lunges, forget about it. Twenty pushups after tricep dips? HA! And don’t even get me started on those mountain climbers combined with pushups; I’m still totally cheating and skipping the second part.
So why keep doing it? I’m totally sweating my body weight by the time I’m done, but I go for a run later that day or the next morning, and my legs feel more powerful than they ever have, in ways I didn’t realize they could. Exhausted, but powerful. Here are some of the other main reasons you should totally try this workout, or any new workout that offers some strength work that excites you and benefits your run:
- My running is improving. I’m not training for anything right now (I’m mentally prepping for a hard half marathon in early 2017), but when I do, I do feel more power behind those previously neglected glutes and hamstrings. Sixty squats will do that to a runner. Or mountain climbers. Or 100 lunges.
- It’s different. Sure, I still love running, but my body and mind needed a break after a difficult marathon session. The BBG program reminds me that I can still get a satisfying workout right outside my front door without pounding the pavement for miles. More importantly, it makes me feel okay with not running regularly right now, something that still makes me feel a pang of guilt sometimes. Plus, each of the three days has a different focus, and the sequence of moves is never 100 percent the same two weeks in a row. I still hate burpees the same way every week though, especially on that 40th one.
- The moves are simple, just strung together to make sense. Raise your hand if your track coach made you do planks after practice. Raise your hand if you’ve kind of dappled in lunges after a workout to feel like you “cross-trained.” Raise your hand if you do actually like steppes on a bench, but honestly felt too lazy to seek out a spot to do them regularly. The BBG program uses these really common moves we’ve all “sort of” done and creates a challenging workout that anyone can master with time.
- You can use household items for weights. Well, duh—at least I do that. I don’t own free weights or medicine balls or anything like that, so I really use liters of club soda or my boyfriend’s work boots to get the job done. And it’s actually kind of…fun.
- You feel like a badass as the weeks go on. On day one, I was sore for two days afterward. I’m now on week five, and I’m not limping away feeling like my limbs and abs want to fall off. I’m still sweating to the point of a soaked sports bra, but my body is getting stronger, so every time one more burpee happens more quickly, I give myself a silent pat on the back.
- It pairs SO WELL with yoga. I’ve watched countless Facebook conversations debate the benefits of yoga for runners, and the truth is, it doesn’t NOT benefit you. (I personally can’t imagine my runner life without yoga now.) The BBG program makes me want that extra counter of stretching and holding poses paired with breath, more than running ever made me want it. All that yoga, combined with all that hopping around doing jump squats, is making my entire being feel more balanced and ready to go hard come spring 2017.