How BodyPump Impacted My Running

In the last 18 months, I have given birth to my second child and trained for {and ran} two half marathons. I am no professional runner. I am not even a good runner. I am mediocre at best. I grew up on the softball field and the basketball court. Running was punishment in my sports. I hated it, as most people seem to think they do as well. I started running in 2011 after setting a goal to run a half marathon. I ran a half in 2011 and 2012, had my first baby in 2013 and continued to run periodically over the last five years with a mix of 5ks, 8ks, and 10ks. After my second child, I decided to lace up and train for another half marathon. In February I finished the Hilton Head Half Marathon after bouts of illnesses and injuries. After the misery of the run wore off, I signed up for the Knoxville Half Marathon and finished that a month later. As with any crazy runner, I signed up for yet another half marathon this fall in Vegas. My knee hurt. My body ached. I knew I needed to cross train more effectively and strengthen core muscles if I wanted to improve my running for the next half. I don’t want to just finish the race; I want to challenge myself and enjoy the race while hopefully hitting a PR. 

Enter Les Mills’ BodyPump at Gold’s Gym.

BodyPump is a barbell group exercise class that focuses on low weight loads and high repetitions while performing squats, presses, lifts and curls, all set to energizing music. It looks intimidating from afar — everyone has a barbell and loads of weights on and around their benches. How do you even know where to begin? Luckily, I knew how weak my upper body was, so my first few classes I chose to work with light weights. Almost embarrassingly light weights, but I did not want to overdo it. Going into your first class and throwing around 20-30 pounds would not be fun. Over the course of the last two months, I have started attending regularly, aiming for 2-3 classes per week. 

Over the last couple months I have set the goal to run around 10 miles per week just to keep what shape I had worked so hard to achieve the last several months of training. I did not want to over do it, as I knew I needed to give my knee a break and focus more on getting stronger. 

What I have gained from BodyPump is so much more than what I had originally planned. 

  • I look forward to the classes. Those days when you can increase your weights make you feel powerful. Or those days you can do every pushup or tricep dip give you the confidence to conquer anything.

  • I love having the set schedule. If I want to make it to BodyPump that day, I have to go at the designated time. It holds me accountable.

  • I get inspired by seeing the other attendees. You see such a wide variety of ages attend the classes. There is an older lady that attends regularly and she blows my mind. Most days she has more weight on her bar than I do and I know that I am at least 40 years younger than her. She is amazing and in a weird way, I am so proud of this woman.

  • I feel strong. I don’t know if I have ever felt “strong.” I can finally do more than three pushups without wanting to die, and that is a large accomplishment. #noshame

So, what has it done to impact running?

  • It has strengthened my knee and legs to the point of running pain free

  • It has strengthened my core, which has improved my running form. No more slouching and shuffling down the road.

  • It has strengthened my mind. When I am in the middle of a mentally draining run, I think back to all the work I have put in at BodyPump. I know that my body is strong enough to handle the run, so I suck it up and push on. I feel so much more confident during my runs.

  • It has improved my 5k time by 90 seconds per mile. Keep in mind that was during an actual 5k race with the adrenaline and the potential to pass people. My training runs are still slow and steady.

I have no plans of stopping BodyPump any time soon. The results that I have experienced over eight weeks have far exceeded my expectations in such a short time. Though I am not measuring my progress in terms of pounds and inches lost, that too, can be a result of BodyPump.

If you are on the fence about joining a group exercise class, TAKE THE PLUNGE! Do not feel intimidated; we have all been the timid soul walking through the door with not a clue as to what we need to do. You can introduce yourself to the instructor and ask about the equipment or just ask someone that looks like they know what they are doing. 

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