I am currently training for an advanced kettlebell certification and my biannual recertification. My coach has integrated something very simple, yet unusual by current standards, into my training program —crawling. Yes, crawling. Something all of us have done, albeit a long time ago, when we were infants and toddlers. Something all of us, no matter our age or current fitness level, should be doing every day.
I have some observations on crawling after doing it as part of a dedicated training regime for the past several weeks. A couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany on the awesomeness of crawling.
I have measured out the longest distance in the gym where I train – 15 yards. This is where I crawl. Interestingly, it is right behind the line of treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bicycles. So far, no one has stepped on or collided with me when they get off the machines.
On this particular day – my hard-core crawling day — I leopard crawled (on hands and feet, eyes looking forward, chest up and butt down). Here’s what I did:
10 sets of 45 yard reps for a total of 450 yards
(1 rep is 15 yards forward + 15 yards backward + 15 yards forward without stopping. In between reps I rest by walking forward + backward + forward the same distance.)
I did this in 24 minutes, which is equivalent to my current 5K PR (23:56—about 7:30 min/mi pace) set two years ago. So I crawled 450 yards (total)—a quarter mile—in the same amount of time it takes me to run a 5K. I can tell you that comparing the two activities, my body has worked harder (frankly it felt the equivalent of running over 5 miles instead of 3.1 miles). To me, the benefits of crawling far supersede those of running: my entire body is involved; by default I utilize/need more mental focus and it is apparent that my mind and body are working synergistically; my joints are used in a non-threatening, low-impact way; the level of conditioning of my cardiovascular system is at least as intense, but I recover quicker; and the best part, after I’m done when I take off my T-shirt I really look buff (no, I do not do that in the gym in front of everyone; it’s in the locker room before I shower).
Another thing I notice—I feel happy (elated is a bit more accurate) after I crawl like this. It’s different and a better more natural feeling than an “endorphin rush”. It’s a bit hard to describe, but I definitely have more mental and emotional fortitude to deal with the rest of the day at my “day job” in an office. Seriously, it’s a challenge to be sure, but I really enjoy crawling. It’s a classic “love/hate” thing that I really look forward to now.
In fact, I enjoy crawling so much that I have been doing it on my “rest” days. Last week I decided to see how far I could go without stopping. My goal was 150 yards. I was at home and it was an unusually lovely day for Washington, DC in July.
I crawled 160 yards without stopping! It wasn’t easy; in fact I would say that it was an all-out 10 out of 10 effort. After I passed the 100 yard mark my thighs were burning and I was breathing heavy, but thanks to my awesome wife, who gave me encouragement all along the way I pushed (crawled) through the physical and most important for me, mental hump and crawled another 60 yards until I stopped.
Crawling is awesome!