Yesterday Janell wrote about staying motivated and overcoming tough seasons in your fitness journey. A lot of times runners have no choice because of injury and overtraining but to turn to other forms of exercise . Much to their surprise they find it was the most beneficial thing they've ever done no matter if they were forced there or not!
The are several benefits to cross-training that will prolong your running career. Let me stop here, as a FORMER personal trainer but current certified group fitness instructor I have the knowledge to encourage and suggest but am no doctor! So please consult your physician when starting any new fitness routine. Ok glad we got that out of the way! Like I was saying there are several benefits to cross-training:
#1 Injury Prevention-the never ending epidemic among pavement pounders everywhere is overuse and overtraining. Your ankles, knees and lower back can take a beating from the repetitive impact. Mixing in other endurance cross training exercises can help you ease into the sport if your a newbie or if your a veteran, stay in the sport longer.
#2 Rehabilitation- like I said earlier, once you are injured some runners are forced into cross training to keep up their current fitness level, not only that but it can also help to correct the injury.
#3 Better Runner Fitness-not all runners get caught up in speed and how fast they can get to the finish line, however all runners will admit to paying attention to their pace. Almost every runner can run faster by cross-training appropriately.
According to Runners's World, "There are three main ways in which supplemental training outside the discipline of running can enhance one's running ability. Specifically, it can:
Enhance a runner's efficiency. Increase a runner's power. Increase the amount of time a runner is able to spend training without accumulating fatigue or getting injured."
# 4 Rejuvenate your Passion- no matter how much you love running, monotony can set in. If you are having an off day and feel like going for a swim because its a beautiful day! Swim! You'll end up being in a better place mentally than a runner with a bad attitude or doing nothing at all!
Taking a day off from running to incorporate a different exercise will help you look more forward to your first love and help you appreciate your sport more than ever. What's that saying you don't know what you've got until its gone? (Sorry squirrel moment!)
So now you know cross training can make you a better runner... What to do?
Three that I have personally found to be very beneficial to runners are cycling, yoga and incorporating strength training into your schedule.
Cycling can be a great active recovery after your long runs, helps you build strength in complimentary leg muscles, leg turnover will increase big time, and your ankles, hips, and knees with thank you!
Yoga offers a full body workout that can greatly increase your overall strength and stamina. Yoga helps loosen and lengthen all the muscles of the body to reverse the muscle tightness caused by running, and to make your body more flexible and stable.
Strength training can help you run faster and more efficiently. Runners with better endurance can run longer. Increasing your strength will help burn more calories and help prevent injury. It doesn't have to take much extra time. Strengthening your leg muscles with squats, lunges, side planks, or step-ups using your own body weight alone can be done at home and doesn't require a gym membership. I may or may not have done wall sits while Facebook stalking!
I encourage and challenge you to incorporate strength training and cross training into your running schedule. You will run faster, longer and stronger and your body will thank you.