Cross-training is life! As a runner, I turn to cross-training to help combat boredom and to give my legs a break. Don’t get me wrong, I love pounding the pavement but nothing beats a solid cross-training routine to help lead a better, injury-free performance come race day.
Now there are few things as euphoric, motivating and addicting as a runner’s high. But as great as it would be to get that I’m-on-top-of-the-world feeling every single day, making running your sole form of training for a race isn’t the best idea. It could lead to injuries, and overtraining if supplementing exercises aren’t rotated in.
That’s where cross-training comes in. Cross training has a myriad of benefits including decreasing impact forces on your body, strengthening muscles and joints, improving and refreshing your mind, and so much more!
Start by adding one or two cross-training activities into your weekly workout schedule. This could range from yoga to cycling and everything in between. The trick is to first decide how you want to mix up your routine, and what you want out of it. Think of cross-training as a side dish to your running entrée—and everyone has different tastes. Some runners prefer to use cross-training as recovery and physical therapy. For others, it’s a way to break a sweat and improve cardio, strength or endurance.
Whatever you’re big on – intensity or restorative, here’s my ultimate guide to using your favorite non-running hobby as an optimal form of cross-training.
YOGA sequences specifically designed for runners an help counteract the negative effects of pounding the pavement during training season. It stretches tight hamstrings, IT bands, outer hips, and back muscles, which can increase your general range of motion. It also eases joints and corrects runners’ posture and encourages a more relaxed breathing pattern.
PILATES is all about the core. Runners benefit from core strengthening and supported posture, which is essential to efficient running form and helps prevent injury. In pilates, runners learn how to effectively use their gluten so they’re the power behind the run – minimizing over-strides.
STRENGTH TRAINING makes better runners. Strong muscles not only make a runner feel better (less fatigued, stressed or breathless, it will make a runner faster.
CIRCUIT TRAINING focuses on high-intensity interval workouts. Incorporating circuit training into your fitness routine builds a stronger, leaner and faster runner. It challenges the body’s aerobic system and requires more physical and mental focus. Added bonus, it boosts metabolism.
SWIMMING serves as an ideal form of active recovery for runners. Swim sessions not only allow you to increase endurance and oxygen capacity, it allows you to maintain cardio activity without the stress of pavement pounding.
As a bonus, swimming requires wholly different movement patterns, giving runners the opportunity to work some of those often forgotten muscle groups.
Even if you’re a pro at cross-training, variety is the spice of life. Toss in a new method of cross-training, and rework and restore your focus and training.