One of the questions that I receive all the time is how to find the right workout balance between cardio, strength and mobility. I totally understand this question from both ends of the spectrum.
Mindset #1 – “I do this one thing and it’s all I want to do!”
I spent a good 6 years where running was my sole form of exercise. I didn’t strength train or do any yoga because a) I didn’t know or care much about it and b) I really just wanted to run and it worked for me…for a while. I reached a point where just running wasn’t working for two reasons. First, I was constantly injured and it was disheartening to have running become such a struggle. And second, I wanted my body to look different. (I will do another post at another time comparing my running 20+ miles a week body to my strength and yoga body.)
Mindset #2 – “I love so many forms of exercise…how do I fit it all in!?”
This is where I am now. Sometimes I joke that I have exercise ADD. I love it all. I wish I had time for swimming (I actually LOVE to swim but never make it to the pool), running, CrossFit, circuit training, HIIT, kickboxing, yoga, etc. but it’s not feasible from a time or financial standpoint. You’ve gotta get focused and you’ve gotta find the balance that works for YOU! I’m going to share what works for me but I would never prescribe it for everyone. We’re all so different in what feels good to our bodies.
The overall formula that has me feeling better physically than I have in 10 years is as follows…
2-3 CrossFit/HIIT/Strength/Circuit workouts per week (I aim for 3)
2-3 short runs (3-5 miles in distance and usually never more than 10 miles in a week)
As much yoga as possible (usually ends up being 3-5 practices per week depending on how crazy work is)
Each piece of this puzzle is extremely important to my overall happiness with my training and how I feel.
The CrossFit, circuit and strength training give me a strong body while also regularly challenging me from a cardiovascular standpoint. Read this post for the specific benefits of strength training for women. I will tell you again and again and again, it’s changed both the way I feel in my body and the appearance of my body. It’s also made me so much stronger in my running and other forms of exercise.
Running has always been my go-to outlet for stress, anxiety, taking advantage of a beautiful day, fresh air, managing emotions, meditation, etc. It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster for me in dealing with injuries and also my anemia diagnosis that made running for 5 minutes feel like a marathon. It was REALLY HARD to let go of the runner identity that I spent years (and so many miles) creating for myself but I can honestly say that giving up distance running and becoming a “recreational runner” has been freeing and amazing. Running never hurts anymore and I feel like a new person in my body! I never where my Garmin. I only run for pleasure. And it’s still that outlet that I need it to be for all the things I listed above.
I credit my yoga practice for sustainability. It allows me to continue to do the lifting and running that I love so much. I’ll share a story.
Last Sunday I did CrossFit Open WOD 14.5 which was…
21-18-15-12-9-6-3 (reps) of Thrusters (65# for ladies) and Burpees
I wasn’t sure if I could do the 65# thrusters and initially put 55# on my bar. Right before I started the clock I decided to go for 65 and told myself that I could go down during the WOD if I needed to. I made it through this crazy tough WOD at 65# by breaking the thrusters into sets each round and I felt incredibly safe, strong and accomplished. I finished in a little over 16 minutes.
Annnnddd then I felt like the tin man for the next few days. I wasn’t even that sore…I was just tight all over. The last week has been insane with trying to get the first draft of my book turned in and work obligations so I had no time to practice yoga. It was the best I could do to get out for a short run or stay after training a client to do a strength workout or quick WOD and I went nearly a week without practicing. It was so clear how big of an impact my yoga practice has on my mobility and my recovery from workouts. I can no longer imagine how people who do high volume running or CrossFit every day can function without a focus on mobility, stretching or yoga. It was kind of beautiful to have to be really gentle and mindful in my body today to get it to open back up after a week of being out of routine.
So that’s where I am right now. Let me know if you have questions and please feel free to share what’s working (or NOT working) for you right now. I think we all learn when we share!