"I wouldn't suggest running with weights. I don't personally see any upside to it."
That advice is from Holly Rilinger — an NASM-certified personal trainer, the author of LIFTED, and a Nike master trainer — and I should have asked for it before taking off on a two-mile run with one-pound Bala weights strapped to my ankles.
A Shark Tank episode introduced me to the trendy fitness accessory. Every shark — including tennis legend Maria Sharapova — wanted in, and so did I. Ironically enough, I received a press email a few days later, offering a free sample.
The weighted bangles arrived on my scheduled running day — so I impatiently velcroed them in place and took off, anticipating toned legs in return for 20 mins of jogging.
Instead of that intense added burn, I felt sluggish at the one-mile mark, which had nothing to do with the weights and everything to do with my lack of training — trust me, this wasn't a new feeling.
For mile two, I switched the weights to my wrists, which I believed to be a stroke of genius at the time.
Still nothing. The added weight encouraged me to pump my arms a little more, causing them to fatigue slightly faster — but overall, my experiment fell flat.
It was clear to me that being an athlete doesn't mean I'm a fitness expert that can invent workouts or new uses for workout equipment at random. So, I contacted Rilinger inquiring about those toned muscles I thought were a given.
"The only reason you should add weight to any movement is because you have mastered that movement, and even still, I wouldn't necessarily suggest adding weights to running," she clarified.
Rilinger believes the reason I didn't feel anything was the same reason I didn't injure myself: my weights were only one pound each.
In Rilinger's opinion, carrying weights while running can negatively affect your arm swing and alter your stride, while adding them to sensitive joints, like your ankles, could put you at risk for injury.
Although she doesn't recommend running with weights, Rilinger did say that a light weighted vest could distribute the weight more safely and is less likely to affect your gate — but you should first check in with a certified personal trainer or your doctor before doing so.
"By altering the way you naturally run, you will stress muscles that shouldn't be stressed by running. These imbalances will cause your body to adjust, and there can be a domino effect of injuries," Rilinger summarizes.
So, after a short running career, I've now retired my Bala bangles to my yoga mat, where they'll be properly used throughout Pilates sessions.