Cross-Training for Runners

If there is one thing that pushes runners to get outside and run, it’s a goal.  Whether it be extending the usual route a quarter mile or qualifying for a marathon, many runner’s use goals as a means of improving their personal best and overall fitness.  If there is one thing that holds a runner back, however, it’s a nagging injury or nasty weather.

So what does a runner do when they can’t handle the stress of running or the cold and/or icy terrain?  Cross-train.

To put it simply, cross-training refers to exercising in diverse ways to develop overall performance.

There isn’t really one form of exercise that activates all of your muscles and gets your heart rate and cardiovascular intensity to rise.  Integrating numerous types of exercise into your workout program will take advantage of the particular effectiveness of different training methods.  The idea is that by strengthening your weaker muscles (that are not used often when running) you become less dependent on your strongest ones, which can lead to injury.  If done right, the results can be significant.

Below are just a few cross-training methods runner’s can benefit from:

CyclingCycling is a great way to stay loose and burn calories while saving your legs from the stresses of running.  Give your running shoes a break and go for a 20 mile ride on course that is relatively flat with some slight hills.  Expect to feel a little sore the next day.  You might find that you have a knack for this sport.  If so, duathlons and triathlons are a fun way to keep yourself motivated.

SwimmingSwimming works your back, core, arms and legs and is a great tool for improving coordination.  The major benefit, though, is that there is next to no stress on any of your joints or bones.  Do some laps in a pool and see how you feel.  Warning: proceed with caution.  It is recommended that you invest in some swimming lessons to learn the proper form and best practices.

YogaAmongst other benefits, yoga can improve strength, balance and flexibility.  Start with some beginner’s yoga if you have never done it before and work your way up to the more extravagant poses.  You will experience a better range of motion and increased blood flow which is useful for any runner.  Even better, yoga can also be used for post-run rehab.

TrainingWith the use of a kettlebell or any stability ball, you can perform a variety of in-home workouts that will get your heart rate up in no time! Like to be outside?  Go for a hike or play basketballat a nearby park with some friends.  And if you want to take a break from working out altogether, take the dog for a walk or use the stairs instead of the elevator. 

The important thing is to stay active, have fun and be safe!



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