The Importance of Cross Training for Runners
It is easy to get caught up in your training plan and forget that you can do an activity outside of running. Tempo run on Tuesday, Hills on Wednesday, Long Run on Sunday, and on the list goes.
But what happens when you start feeling those niggling pains and muscle tightness? If you are anything like me, you continue running through them and assume that it is just a case of muscle development or slight soreness and not anything serious. The problem with running and running alone for your workouts is that you will have a higher likelihood of injury and burnout.
Enter cross training: by adding the right kind of cross training into your running program, you actually will become a stronger runner.
One of my favourite types of cross training is swimming as it is a non-weight bearing exercise, giving your joints a break and helping to develop core and upper body strength. Upper body musculature is something that is often neglected in runners, so…win for us!
Another option in the pool is deep water running. It is exactly what the name suggests, suspending yourself in the deep end of the pool and mimicking the motion of running without the joint impact. Coming from someone who did it while injured, it is a fabulous way to cross train if you are an injured runner, but possibly the most boring thing you can possibly imagine.
Plyometrics are high intensity, explosive exercises such as jumping, bounding and hopping drills. These exercises help develop a runners strength, stamina, speed and range of motion. Because of the high impact landings, they are not suitable for runners with injuries but are fabulous for runners who want to develop overall conditioning.
Here is an example plyometric workout:
Whether you are spinning away indoors or ripping up a trail or highway outdoors, a bike is a wonderful, low impact exercise that provides a high cardio, low impact workout. Biking helps to develop quadriceps and strengthens the connective tissues of the knees, hips and ankles. Because it is a highly strenuous exercise, it is not ideal to combine a running workout with a cycling workout, but because you are a runner and will break these rules, do a run in a morning and a ride at night. (It works for me!)
What is your favourite cross training exercise?