Hi! My name is Meg Takacs. I’m a Brooklyn-based running coach and the founder of Run With Meg, an app for runners.
I thought I’d found my passion for kettlebells a few years back while I was coaching CrossFit. At the time, I was doing the basic swings and cleans, but little did I know just how versatile and beneficial kettlebells could actually be for runners.
In 2021, I was training at a high volume and found myself suffering from ITBS. I tried to run and foam-roll my way through it, and as I'm sure you can imagine, that didn’t work. Shortly after, I tore my left meniscus.
Did you know that over 80% of runners experience an overuse injury at least once in their life? Crazy, right? But what I discovered is that with proper cross training and mobility, a lot of common running injuries can actually be avoided (runner’s knee, ITBS, and plantar fasciitis).
Prior to my injury, I had been a collegiate level track and field athlete, had ran an ultra marathon, and raced several half marathons, all of which I completed injury-free. So, needless to say, I was a bit shaken when I found out my meniscus was torn. Not being able to run turned my life upside down. But instead of giving up on the sport, I threw myself into rehab and cross-training, which is when I truly discovered how kettlebells could enhance my running performance and prevent future injury.
During rehab, I found out I had several muscle imbalances, which is what led to my meniscus tear. Muscle imbalances are common amongst athletes who participate in sports with repetitive movement, like running. It’s one foot in front of the other, until you either stop, or you can’t go any further. Sounds fun right? For example, if one leg’s hamstring is stronger than the other, the other leg’s hamstring will continuously overwork to compensate for the weakness. Ultimately, these muscle imbalances throw off your power output (how strongly your foot hits the ground) and as a result, can affect everything from the mechanics or your gait (stride form), to how your foot strikes, and what happens to the rest of your kinetic chain when you land.
When I was finally able to start strength training again, I dove into METCON workouts and began experimenting and creating a ton of kettlebell movements that worked on improving the muscles needed to run efficiently and avoid injury. For example, glute medius muscles are often weak in runners. Weak glutes can lead to overworked IT bands. Overworked IT bands lead to knee injuries. And so on.
From my own personal experience, I can say with 100% confidence that strength training with kettlebells can be a game changer for runners. When training correctly, kb’s help increase muscle mass in the right places. That muscle mass serves as a buffer in protecting your bones and joints. Utilizing movements that require triple extension (ankle, knee and hip flexion) help to increase your power output, allowing you to run further and faster, expending less energy to do so. METCON circuits and kettlebell flows are a great way to engage your posterior chain, hip extension, core, and endurance. Plus, they’re fun as hell and kind of make you feel like a badass. There’s something about that brain/body state of flow; it’s so rewarding. Kettlebells also allow you to train isolated movements patterns, like single leg deadlifts and single arm swings, which will help you discover and improve muscle imbalances. Runners spend 100% of the time on one leg. Knowing that, you can see how important training single leg exercises is.
Runner-specific kettlebell training is directly transferable to improving your running form and technique.
You don’t run more to run better; you run smarter.
If you want to prevent injury and improve your running economy, cross training with kettlebells could be your answer.
I hope you enjoy the short workout I’ve put together! You can learn more about runner-specific training on my Instagram @Meg_Takacs.
Grab your bells, and let’s GO!
1 minute introduction
3 mobility movements:
Hip flexor reaches
Lunging hip opener
Hip extension pops
5 movements: (I will write some cues for these)
- Single leg deadlift rows
- Split stance lunging swings
- Push-up pull throughs
- Squat cleans
- Clean split jerks