Some runners consider running to be the only actual training they need, but if you want to become a competitive runner and improve your performance and results, you do want to add some different workouts to your training program. Cross training has huge benefits for runners. You will help improve your aerobic fitness by adding exercises such as: swimming, spinning or others. Hiking and elliptical actually mimic the running moves and also help improve your fitness and endurance. Mobility and strength training should become a part of your weekly workout schedule if you want to improve your performance and results. Yoga and weight lifting are great exercises but are not to be counted as cross training.
Here are the reasons to start thinking about cross training if you are runner:
1. It can reduce the risk of injuries. Many of the running related injuries are due to imbalances in the muscles, overuse and some biomechanical anomalies. Things like: supination, overpronation or hip unevenness can lead to running related injuries. Cross training can help resolve these issues. You can work to make the muscles stronger and reduce the muscle imbalances by training. When you have days for cross training your feet will have the ability to rest and the impact on the foot and leg muscles, joints and bones will be reduced. Overuse is another risk factor which will be diminished by introducing non-running days with different forms of training.
2. Cross training will allow you to stay fit even when you are injured. If you are already injured and are being ordered to stay away from running for a while, doing other exercises can help you stay in shape while you are healing. Once you are healed, you will be in proper and even better shape than before to start running once again! The type of workouts to choose when you are injured depends on the injury itself. Asking your doctor or physical therapist about the safest and best forms of exercise to undertake when you are injured is the advisable thing to do.
3. Cross training will save you from running in horrible weather conditions. You can do some indoor swimming as a great cardiovascular exercise instead of running in the pouring rain. Swimming has no impact on the joints and will reduce the risk of overtraining and injuries. It will also help you strengthen your upper body. Another excellent form of indoor cross training for runners is Elliptical. It simulates the motions of running but without the heavy impact on the feet and legs.
4. You can enjoy spending time outdoors with some cross training options too.
If you don’t like training in a stuffy gym, you can proceed to do your cross training workout in the outdoors. Some of the most suitable workouts for runners include:
– Hiking. Walking uphill and downhill on an uneven terrain is an excellent aerobic exercise and will help strengthen your muscles. Hiking up steep hills is great for strengthening the glutes. Strong glutes are essential for good running. Hiking downhill will help you exercise the joints and prepare them for downhill running.
– Cycling. Both mountain and road cycling are great for working on your cadence. You can incorporate cycling in your daily or weekly routine by cycling to work or school instead of driving. Of course you can do indoor cycling if you prefer – find a good spinning class near you and try it out!
– Snowshoeing. This outdoor activity burns much more calories than hiking. It will help make your muscles stronger. You can choose snowshoeing routes depending on your preferences – both hiking trails or Nordic ski areas are great options for this kind of winter outdoor cross training.
5. Cross training can easily be incorporated in your running training routine. Adding different workouts to your training program is done to help your running rather than to replace it. You should start by planning your running days and using the other days for cross training. You should be able to run safely for 3 to 5 times a week. Make sure you plan your weekly workouts for the resting days. You should add 1-2 days of cross training, plus 2 or 3 days of strength training, Pilates, yoga or other workouts. A perfect cross training workout includes 40-60 minutes in the gym, of which 20-30 are for cross training and the remaining 15-20 minutes are for strength training.
About the Author: Cara Haley is the editor-in-chief for ComfortHacks.com where she reviews shoes for different foot issues and FitaholicGear where she reviews sport shoes. When she’s not running or writing, you can find her hiking, camping or spending time with her family at home. Check out her latest article Best CrossFit shoes for Men and Women with Easy Selection Guide