When Rose asked me to write a kettlebell piece for the Stroller Warriors community, I was insanely grateful for this opportunity to contribute! But, my immediate thought was, “Where do I start?!?” I am known as a kettlebell coach, but I am also a runner. Running is my fitness first true love. It has always been my escape. If I have something tough to tackle in life, I hit the pavement. I do not run for time. I do not run for medals (but that can be exciting). I do not run with friends (but that is always a nice bonus if it happens too). I have been in love with running for running’s sake since I was introduced to the timed mile-run in sixth grade.
I still remember the run along my old country dirt road back when I was a kid in Arkansas— how the cows looked in the fields with their head bent down, how the headstones looked as I circled through the cemetery to loop back home. I still remember my runs in college—the rolling hills and long stretches of tall grass blowing alongside those back roads, and those steep hills in the shadows of the University of Arkansas. Running is a memory in motion.
I remember my runs at each place my family has been assigned over the past 17 years: Nellis’ desert landscape and jumping over boulders just for fun. Pope and the sound of Jodie’s at 0600 with all the soldiers lined up for their morning PT, helicopters flying and jets taking off. It was a busy place. Running made me feel like I was a part, or had a part in it all. We were at Malmstrom when the base was demolishing all the old houses and rebuilding. I would run through those ghost streets, and every now and then come across a house with workers. I would stop to nurse my second baby on those runs, with those strangers across the street, while my first baby played in the empty lots. After Montana, we moved back to Nellis. This time I had two big toddlers in tow and I was pushing them up, down, and around all of base housing. We would see roadrunners, ground owls, lizards, quail families, mushrooms, the Joshua trees, and we learned about the star constellations, and even witnessed a Russian rocket transition back into Earth’s stratosphere! Those desert nights are some of my favorite memories…and they happened because I loaded up my babies night after night, day after day, and we just ran for the sake of it.
Running is the ultimate blend of those basic human needs for freedom and to dance with Mother Nature. Running can be done anywhere, at any time, alone, or with your people. You do not need special equipment. You do not need fancy shoes, or any shoes at all. The rhythm of running, as an escape into a time of gratitude and mental clarity, is real freedom.
My journey with kettlebells started as innocently as my start into running. One little event layered upon another. I simply showed up to fitness every day. My then boyfriend, now husband, brought me a kettlebell back from his kettlebell certification. I started playing around with it. Much like I would do in my runs, I was just having fun with the feeling of doing kettlebells.
What are my favorite rhythms to fall into with Ashley? I love a long-cycle snatch ala the Viking Warrior Protocol by Kenneth Jay. I love a good therapeutic set of get-ups paired with swings (in some circles this is known as “The Inferno”). I love chaining the basics together into a nice flow. It might look something like: Swing, clean, squat, press, get-down, get-up, snatch, windmill, and repeat for reps. That same mental clarity from a running turnover is the same feeling I get during a snatch cycle. I can settle into my body, get grounded, and feel connected.
Running and kettlebell swings are actually the first “workout” I ever did with my first bell. Running is what I knew. I just added the novelty of swings to it. This is what it looked like:
10 sets of:
-25 two-hand swings
-1/4 mile jog
It was so simple. It was so fun. I was still outside. I was still running. I was progressing along my fitness journey. It continues to this day. I still love to swing and snatch for the sake of it…and, I still love to run for the fun and feel of it.
Please stay tuned over the next few months, as Sara will share her knowledge and expertise about kettlebells with the Stroller Warriors community!