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We all know that to improve our running, we have to do much more than just run. Having strong legs is crucial, but to become a more resilient runner, making sure you have a strong core is key.
Core muscles include the postural muscles, which includes the muscles of the back, stomach, and hips. By adding a series of core exercises to your training plan, you’ll be building your strength, stabilizing your body while running, and improving your form when you get tired.
There are lots of core exercises out there, but some of them are definitely better for runners than others. Here are five effective core strengthening exercises that you can do without stepping foot in a gym – all you need is a little floor space!
Lie on your stomach and prop your weight on your toes and forearms. Place your toes about hip distance apart with your elbows resting on the floor right under your shoulders. Keep a straight line from your head to your feet and be sure that your abdominal muscles are engaged.
Hold this position for 30 seconds. Increase the number of repetitions and the length of time you hold the pose as your core strength increases.
Lying on your right side, lift your body and balance on your right elbow and outer edge of your right foot. There should be a straight diagonal line from your feet up to your head.
As an advanced form of the exercise, you can do lateral leg raises, by slowly lifting your left leg to a 45-degree angle and lowering it back down to the start position.
Start by lying on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips until there is a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Extend one leg straight out, knees together, and hold for a few seconds. Return to the initial position and repeat on the other side. During the exercise, make sure you don’t drop your hips.
With a five to fifteen pound weight on the floor next to you, sit with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lean back so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to floor, making sure to keep the spine straight and not rounded and you feel your abs engage. For a greater challenge, lift your feet ever-so-slightly off the floor. Slowly rotate round to the right and pick up your weight. Holding the weight, slowly rotate all the way round to the left as far behind as you can.
The Superman Pose
Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Start by lifting your right arm with the left leg, then alternate sides. You can practice variations of this move by only lifting the arms or only lifting the legs. The most advanced version of this exercise is holding both arms and legs off the ground at one time. Hold each of these poses for 20 to 30 seconds.
The long-awaited vacation days are around the corner. But a few days away from home also means being away from your regular training routes, training buddies, and training routine.
But there is no need to sacrifice your running while you get some rest and relaxation. In fact, training at a new location can improve your performance and versatility, while you might meet some of the area’s friendliest runners.
Stay on track while you’re on the road, with these simple tips and strategies:
Plan your workouts
The biggest obstacle to training while on vacation is time. So, as you map out your sightseeing plans, you should also spend some time scheduling your workouts. Ideally, you’ll end up with a plan for how your training works into your vacation schedule.
If you’re training for a half or full marathon with one of Hal Higdon’s plans, you may want to plan your training so that your vacation corresponds with a “stepback” week.
Do your research before you leave
Plan and map your running routes, along with the top attractions and restaurants that you can’t miss at your vacation destination. Check out sites such as Map My Run or Trails.com for running routes at your vacation locale.
Make sure you have a few running routes in hand in case some routes you mapped aren’t suitable. By doing so, you won’t feel as concerned about running at your destination once you arrive.
Find a running buddy
Will you be traveling with others? Scope them out to see if there are any runners in the group. If you’re not lucky, you can still register at sites such as Athlinks and SeriousRunning or find a running club that you can join during your stay – RRCA is the place to start looking.
Running specialty shops are also a great resource for out-of-town runners. Not only can they provide useful information about running routes, but they may even offer a free group run that you can join.
Find a local gym
If you’re not 100% sure the running routes you found are safe, opt for the treadmill. Most larger hotels have a gym on site. But if the one you’re staying at doesn’t, try to find one locally where you can work out. Some gyms offer day guest passes or an inexpensive 30-day membership that will allow you to keep your training on track.
Enter a race
Entering a race is a great way to see the sights and guarantee that you’ll run at least once during your stay. Search on sites such as runnersworld.com’s Race Finder to see if there’s a race during the time you’ll be staying at your destination.
Take advantage of cross-training
When you’re on vacation, you may end up doing activities that aren’t part of your usual exercise routine, but that can be great substitute for your run. Is there a great hike or a bike ride you can take? Can you go kayaking, surfing or swimming? Don’t feel pressured to run every day and do one of those cross-training activities, instead.
If you end up not having the time to run while on vacation, don’t beat yourself up over it. Enjoy the relaxing days! Your body and your mind will thank you!
What’s your favorite season for outdoor running? If you picked summer, you are not alone! We love the bright blue skies, the smell of grass in the morning, more daylight before and after work, and not to have to dress in layers! This could be the perfect running scenery if it wasn’t for extreme heat and humidity!
Running in such harsh conditions can put you at risk for dehydration, heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.
To help you optimize your hot-weather workouts – and because we are summer fans ourselves – we put together some proven to work running tips:
Morning is the coolest time of the day to run. Before sunrise or right after it, the roads are still cool from the night’s lower temperatures.
If you can’t train during those hours, try to avoid running between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s intensity is at its greatest, or seek shade and grass, since asphalt and concrete retain more heat.
Hydration is one of the most important elements to staying cool and performing your best in warmer temperatures. This means you should drink fluids before, during and after your runs.
When it comes to staying hydrated, sports drinks beat water. Why? They contain electrolytes, which increase your water-absorption rate and replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat.
In training, drink 16 ounces of a sport drink an hour before you head out and prepare yourself to toss down five to eight ounces of a sport drink about every 20 minutes while working out.
Wear light-colored, loose-fitting and lightweight apparel that will help your body breathe and cool itself down naturally. Microfiber polyesters and cotton blends are good fabric choices because they will wick moisture away from your skin so cooling evaporation can occur.
For your head opt for a visor instead of a hat – it is too constrictive and traps heat. Don’t forget your shades and to protect your skin with a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Adjust your Paces
As you probably already know, performance suffers in the heat and humidity. In fact, every 5°F rise in temperature above 60°F can slow your pace by as much as 20 to 30 seconds per mile. So don’t push it!
Slow down, take walking breaks, and save your hard efforts for cooler weather. After all, this hot and humid season is not the time to try to push your pace and try to achieve a race PR.
What’s your trick to dealing with the heat? Share it in the comment section!
After a long or hard run, the last thing you may feel like doing is eating a big hot meal, especially now that summer is finally here and the temperatures are rising. And what could be better than a cold, refreshing smoothie on a hot day?
Not only are they fresh, but also a source of nutrients and energy that all runners need to boost their performance and recovery.
Here are four healthy, delicious smoothies from some of our favorite sites around the web:
Sweet Spinach Smoothie
Found on Popsugar
Why is it good for you: This veggie-packed smoothie is a good source of protein, vitamin A and bone-building vitamin K, as well as an impressive amount of essential nutrients like manganese, potassium, and vitamin C.
2 cups spinach leaves, packed
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and chopped
15 green or red grapes
6 ounces fat-free plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped avocado
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Directions: In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients until blended to the desired consistency.
Crunchy Coffee Fix
Found on Runner’s World
Why is it good for you: While coffee can speed your recovery, natural cocoa powder provides anti-inflammatory antioxidants for just a few calories. In addition, bananas are rich in potassium, that helps maintain fluid balance, and almonds contain healthy fats that help keep you full.
4 ounces chilled coffee
4 ounces fat-free milk
1 banana (preferably frozen), sliced
2 tablespoons whole almonds
2 teaspoons natural cocoa powder
Directions: Place ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Found on About Health
Why is it good for you: Not only is this a very refreshing smoothie – which come in handy after a hot run – it is also surprisingly filling. Watermelon is best known for being rich in Lycopene – especially important for our cardiovascular health – but also for containing key vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fiber.
2 cups chopped watermelon
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup ice
Directions: In a blender, combine the ingredients and blend until smooth.
Cherry Vanilla Almond Smoothie
Found on Running to the Kitchen
Why is it good for you: Cherries are a superfruit! They have the highest antioxidant level of any fruit, reduce muscle inflammation and soreness, and are good for the heart. And the cherry on the top of the cake is: it tastes just like Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup water
¼ almond milk
1 cup pitted cherries
2 tbsp whole almonds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp vanilla protein powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
½ cup ice
Directions: Put all ingredients into blender and pulse for a “chewy” consistency. If you want it smooth, just use puree setting and blend longer.
Did your favorite smoothie make our list? Share its recipe, if it didn’t!
There’s a lot more to running than simply lacing up your shoes, hitting the road and doing what feels natural. Improving your running form can help you run faster, more efficiently, and with less stress on your body and reduced injury risk.
From foot strikes and stride turnover to posture and body tension, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to running form.
Follow these tips to work on perfecting your running form:
Perfect your stride
One of the most common mistakes new runners make is reaching out with their foot to take a longer stride. Overstriding creates an aggressive, heel-smashing foot strike, which not only wastes more energy, but also leads to injury issues such as runner’s knee and shin splints.
Your strides shouldn’t be too short either. This is just as inefficient as overstriding. When it comes to proper running form, you should find a stride length that is comfortable, almost effortless.
Ideally your knee should be above your foot and your shin vertical as your foot makes contact with the ground. This running form will put your foot down underneath your hips, preventing your leg from stretching in front of your body.
One of the biggest concerns among new runners is how their foot strikes the ground. Heel strikers tend to land with their heel first and roll to the ball of the foot, while for toe runners, landing on their toes comes naturally.
Even though, the reality is that most average runners are either heel strikers or toe runners, these two foot strikes can truly damage your performance. If you land on your toes, your calves will get tight or fatigued quickly and you may develop shin pain. Landing on your heels wastes energy and may cause injury.
A mid-foot strike, in contrast to a heel or a forefoot strike, provides greater shock absorption, decreases strain on the calves and Achilles tendon, and may help prevent shin splints. Heading to a track and leaving your shoes behind is a great way to practice avoiding a huge heel or toe strike.
Check your posture
Just as you should maintain good posture when standing or sitting, maintaining a straight and erect posture while running is essential. Just by keeping a good posture, you will help release tension and reduce strain in the neck and shoulders and prevent muscle fatigue.
Next time you get out for a run, follow these proper posture principles that will help you to reinforce a tall, straight back with no slouching:
- Hold your head high, centered between your shoulders, and your back straight.
- Your eyes should be focused on the ground about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you.
- Keep your shoulders under your ears and maintain a neutral pelvis.
- Avoid side-to-side arm swinging. To help you remember, imagine a vertical line splitting your body in half – your hands should not cross it.
- When you’re feeling sluggish, poke your chest out for an extra boost of confidence.
Whether is it caused by lack of experience or by trying too hard, the truth is many runners have way too much tension in their bodies. But putting this extra pressure on yourself isn’t doing you any favors.
In fact, anywhere you’re holding extra tension is using up energy that should be spent elsewhere. It’s important to know your tension spots and check to make sure you’re not clenching when you should be relaxed:
- Be aware of jaw tension and squinting. Unclench your jaw by opening your mouth and taking a deep breath; to reduce squinting, use a hat with a brim that puts your eyes in shade, or by wearing sunglasses.
- Keep your arms relaxed and hands as loosed as possible. You can hold your hands as if you are holding drumsticks or as if you have a fragile egg in each hand. Don’t clench your fists because it can lead to tightness in the arms, shoulders, and neck.
- Keep your wrists loose. This will help you maintain a good hand and shoulder position.
You’re a very committed runner. You never skip a workout, you fuel properly and even rest when all you wanted was to log some miles. But, even so, you never seem to improve your race times. You’re not alone.
In fact, this is one of the biggest issues that strike runners who are focused in increasing their speed, along with their mileage.
To help you become faster, we have put together five tips to change things up in training and stimulate better results:
You can’t become a faster runner without practicing running fast. Short sprinting bursts are a great exercise for improving your personal best, along with building your strength and endurance. And because they last only a short amount of time, they are easy to incorporate into your running plan.
There are many different ways of incorporating short repeats into your training. Whether you choose to time your intervals or use the terrain to your advantage, it’s important you don’t push yourself too much, too soon. Keep in mind that a fast pace doesn’t mean an all-out sprint, but a faster pace than your usual.
Tempo runs are similar to high-intensity intervals, but instead of doing short sprinting bursts, you have to run slightly faster than your normal pace for a longer time period. A tempo run should challenge your body, but not as much as a sprint: if you’re able to hold a conversation, you’re going too slow, but if you can easily answer short questions, it means you’re at the right pace.
These types of runs will push your physical threshold, which will help you improve your endurance and speed. If you have never done a tempo run, start out with 10 minutes, and build up to 40 minutes, every 7 to 10 days.
This strategy involves running the second half of a run at a faster pace than the first half. This is a very simple way to make every run a good run and, despite what you may think, it actually helps to improve your PR.
To incorporate negative splits into one of your runs, start at a good, steady pace. After the first half of the run, your body is properly warmed up and it should be easy to increase your pace on the second half of the workout, so you end up with a faster overall time. Out-and-back runs are a great way to inspire negative splits: run at a comfortable pace to a destination, and increase your speed once you head back home.
The next time you get out for a run, make sure an incline is part of your route. Running up hills is the perfect way to make you a faster runner: it strengthens the same muscles you use for sprinting and builds your body’s endurance, which can be useful when you’re fatigued and struggling to pick up the pace.
Whether you choose to run on the treadmill or outside, you can either opt for short and fast reps (8 x 20 seconds) to build strength and power, or longer reps (8 x 1 minute) to build speed and endurance.
Run on different surfaces
If you’re used to running on flat terrain, get yourself to a soft-surface trail to challenge your muscles in different ways.
Running on undulating routes and on different types of pavement avoids repetition and forces your body to engage muscles that normally go unused while you run a consistent road or track gait.
All runners share a common goal: to be better runners. It doesn’t matter if you started Ease Into 5K last week or if you already have a few races under your belt; you want to become faster, more efficient and more injury resistant.
But just running isn’t going to be enough. It is important to incorporate strength training into your workout plans. Not only do these exercises help you build muscle power, but they also fire up your metabolism and strengthen your bones against age-related deterioration.
To become a stronger, faster, more complete runner, make sure you add these four running specific strength training exercises to your running routine:
If we had to pick just one strength training exercise for runners it would be squats. They strengthen the entire lower body, by targeting running-specific muscles, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, hip flexors, and glutes. Squats can even help you strengthen your knees and prevent knee pain and injury.
Begin this exercise by standing with your feet hip distance apart, with your toes facing forward. Slowly lower your body and sit back like you are sitting in a chair behind you. Make sure your knees don’t cross the plane of your toes when your glutes, quads and hamstrings are engaged. Straighten legs and come back up to standing to complete one rep.
Bodyweight squats can easily be added to your post-run routine and, even though they don’t require any equipment, you can always try modified versions that combine the squats’ movement with dumbbells, a band or a swiss ball.
The upper body is often neglected by runners when they train. Strong arms, chest, shoulders, as well as a strong core are essential for overall fitness and powerful, faster runs.
Push-ups are great for the upper body. They help strengthen the chest, core, biceps, triceps and back in just one move and without any type of equipment.
The exercise is very simple: in a plank position, with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, bend elbows and descend down until the chest nearly touches the ground. Push yourself all the way up to plank position for one rep.
If you are a beginner, you can start with your knees on floor or even opt for a wall push instead. Depending on your fitness level or where your train takes places, there are several variations of the traditional push-up position, that you can easily incorporate to your training plan.
Most runners are probably tired of hearing about how they should strengthen their core. But there’s a reason! A strong core – your abs, obliques, lower back and hips – is essential for improving stride, form, breathing and speed.
The plank is the perfect exercise for strengthening every muscle in your core. Begin in a push-up position, with your arms straight (palms below shoulders) and weight balanced evenly between hands and toes. Align the body straight from the top of the head through the heels. Tighten up the abs while lifting through the chest to create as much space as possible in between the chest and the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and work up to 1-3 minutes.
You can progress by alternate lifting each leg or using a balance board as support for your hands.
As a runner, all you want is to keep on moving forward. But this repetitive, unidirectional movement, along with muscle weakness, can be the cause for the most common injuries among runners. That’s why it’s so important to train your body through other planes of movement, like backwards or sideways.
Lateral lunges help you train often-neglected muscles like the hip flexors, quads, calves, core, hamstrings and glutes, helping increase stability at your joints, improve your balance, and prevent injury.
To perform a lateral lunge, begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips. Then, step three to four feet out to the right with one foot while sending the hips back and squatting to a 90 degree angle at the right knee. Try to sit down with your butt, keeping your back as upright as possible, your abs tight and chest up. When coming back to standing, engage the glute to power off the ground. After finishing all reps on this side, repeat on left side to complete one set.
What strength training exercise best works for you? Tells us all about it in the comments below.
Guest post by J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D. Founder of FitnessTrax, Inc. and creator of the RunningTrax System
Editor’s Note: We are very excited to announce RunningTrax, an app we’ve been working on for the past year in partnership with Dr. J. Gerry Purdy of FitnessTrax, Inc. Most training plans will tell you how far to run in any given workout, but RunningTrax tells you what pace you should run for that distance. Read on to find more about the RunningTrax app and how it will improve your training. To get notified when the app is available for download and try it free for 30 days please sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bknx8b
RunningTrax™ is the first personalized, dynamic running training system that tells every runner exactly what pace they should run – day in and day out.
There are more than 200 million people in the world who regularly run at least three times a week. A few are serious, dedicated runners vying for a top national or age-group ranking. This represents perhaps 1% of the total. These runners typically pay hundreds of dollars a month to get personalized training advice: how fast should they run in each workout.
However, the vast majority of people who run regularly (the other 99%) have not had any easily available and low-cost way to get personalized advice for their workouts. They read an article in a magazine like Runner’s World or online that talks about training advice. It is helpful to some extent. But, the training advice given online or from a book or magazine has one major drawback: it cannot possibly give you personalized advice on what you should do.
Training programs, books and articles can only define a general workout recommendation because it has been impossible – up until now – to define a workout for the millions of runners all at different levels of ability. A training program might say to run three miles. That’s fine, but at what pace should you run? You don’t want to run too slow or too fast. And, what if your neighborhood course is 3.3 miles? How would you adapt the recommendation for a different distance? You can see it’s nearly impossible for someone giving training advice to the public to define a specific, personalized workout for every runner.
This is the problem I set out to solve while working on my Ph.D. at Stanford. In order to define a personalized workout, you need to be able to determine each runner’s level of ability. If you could do that, then you would be able to take a proposed workout distance, time or pace and generate a workout that is personalized to each runner’s level of ability. The hard part is to find a way to determine each runner’s level of ability.
The reason it is hard to determine your level of ability is because of a simple fact of human running performance: there are limits to what each runner can perform. The highest performances are known as world records. World records are very hard to beat because the human has limits – we can’t improve forever. When you take a large number of runners, the top performance might improve a little over decades but the rest of the performances don’t change much.
However, for each and every runner, making improvements at lower levels of performance is clearly easier than at higher levels of performance. Thus, any system to determine physiologic performance cannot be linear, where every unit of speed increase would earn the same unit increase in the runner’s level of ability.
Rather, the system that determines level of ability has to reward every unit of speed increase with a larger unit increase in the runner’s level of ability. We call this kind of improvement non-linear because for every unit improvement, larger rewards are provided.
Think of this another way. I am runner with a certain level of ability. As I improve, it gets harder for me to improve to newer, higher levels of ability. When I start off, it is easy to make improvements. But, as I improve, I will find it harder to achieve further improvements.
In order to correctly model human performance, you have to take this ”limitation effect” into account. A system has to be set up so that it correctly defines the level of ability from beginner to average to world class.
I was able to do that by referencing thousands of performances over the past 100 years and then using a non-linear formula that I created with the help of a math professor at Stanford. I used many hours of computer time to calculate the values used in the non-linear formula. This gave us the basis for the values of the level of ability for the ten most popular distances run from 100 meters through the marathon.
Let me explain a bit more about how the RunningTrax™ system works. RunningTrax™ is a breakthrough system which solves the most persistent problem for all runners, from weekend joggers to world class athletes.
When training, runners need to run hard enough to improve but not too hard or they’ll increase the risk of getting injured. Until RunningTrax™, it has been difficult and expensive for runners to get good advice on how to train. That’s why almost all running websites and apps focus on recording what runners have done rather than telling them what they should do.
The RunningTrax™ mobile app is a quantum leap forward in running training. While it provides all the standard features (including GPS tracking, run logging, music integration, etc.), the new RunningTrax app is the first system to help every runner, regardless of ability, get a personalized recommendation on the proper pace to run for every workout.
The RunningTrax app is just days away from being launched on the Apple App Store. To get a notification when the app is available for download and get a free 30 day trial, add your email here: http://eepurl.com/bknx8b To read more about the RunningTrax app please visit: http://www.runningtrax.com
Typically, it takes a lot of expert time to define appropriate workouts for individual runners. RunningTrax™ is the first to automatically and scientifically determine what a runner should do for any distance, time or pace. In addition, it adjusts to a runner’s changing level of fitness.
Finding time and motivation to run is hard for all of us. For busy moms, it’s even tougher. With your full time job, small children that require your full attention, and a household to manage, you still manage to find time for date night and your friends every now and then. How can running fit in such a hectic schedule?
We put together some simple tips and tricks that will help you balance training and motherhood.
Wake up early to run
The hardest thing about being a mother runner is finding time to workout without hurting the family schedule. Early mornings are usually the best time slots to fit a run. At this time of the day there aren’t any interruptions, and there’s no need to arrange babysitting because everyone is still asleep. But motivation can be hard to find when you would rather stay in bed instead of lacing up. It can be really helpful and motivating if you prep everything you need – clothes, running shoes, pre-run meal and water – the night before. When the alarm goes off, you won’t have any more excuses to skip the workout. Just say to yourself, “Don’t think, just go.”
Make every minute count
If mornings are not a good time to squeeze in a workout, and evenings are too crowded to log a few miles, you should start making every minute count.
Many runners plan their workouts around their children’s naps; others run laps around the soccer or baseball field when their kids are at practice; and putting your kids in a day care a few miles away from home can do wonders for your weekly mileage.
The most important thing of being a busy mom runner, is to pick the most convenient time to work out and learn to be flexible – a 4-mile run may turn into 8 miles if your child is behaving in the running stroller, or a longer run might get compromised if your kid would rather be at home.
Choose the right training plan
If you have just decided to have a more active lifestyle, you should begin with a minimum time per day and minimum number of days per week goal.
How about 30 minutes per day, three days per week? You can easily fit in a workout in your busy mom’s schedule with a run/walk interval program, such as Ease Into 5K.
Interval workouts alternate high-intensity levels with lower-intensity effort, which helps you see greater results in less time. Studies have shown that interval training burns three times as much fat as running twice as long at a moderately hard, steady pace. But the benefits don’t end there – recovery from interval training forces the body to continue burning fat for energy.
Work out alone
Although working out with a running partner can help you stay motivated, coordinating schedules can be a daunting task.
Working out alone allows you to manage your own schedule, fitting in a run whenever possible and focusing on a more targeted workout that will you give you quicker results.
But if you already have a running buddy that holds you accountable, you can both benefit a lot more from this partnership. Next time you go out for a run, bring your kids along and swap the duties back and forth – have your running partner watch the children while you run, then switch when you get back.
Cherish your solo runs
When you run alone, make that workout about you. You need that time to recharge yourself, away from the chaos of your busy mom life.
When you run, try to focus completely on running and don’t let thoughts of your children or other worries distract you. It will be hard at first; but when you get back from your work out, your kids will have your complete attention and you will feel physically and mentally reinvigorated and ready to give your best to all those around you.
If we ask you to name a benefit of cross-training, what would be your answer? Let us guess… injury prevention? Even though this is the most widely recognized benefit of cross-training among runners, it’s not the only one.
Cross-training should be part of every fitness plan because it helps to rehabilitate injuries, aids in muscle recovery, and improves fitness. In addition, cross-training can also prevent burnout and add a little fun and variety to your workout, helping you to stay motivated during the several weeks of training.
In this article, we chose a few cross-training activities that you can include one to three times per week in your fitness routine for optimal results. Depending on your training and health situation, you can select the activities that will work best for you.
Unlike running, walking is a low-impact activity that exercises many of the same muscles, which makes it a great cross-training activity.
If you’re a beginner and your body is not used to the repetitive impact of running, you can use walking to improve endurance without beating up your most vulnerable joints, muscles, and connective tissues. Doing a vigorous walk the day after an intense run is also a great way to recover.
To get all the cardio-respiratory benefits of this cross-training activity, walk at a brisk pace and pump your arms to burn more calories.
Pool running, also known as water running, is exactly as the name implies: running in a pool, in deep water.
Even though you always need a pool deep enough to perform this workout, it is worth the try, especially if you’re recovering from an injury. This activity mimics running movements on land without the impact on the joints. Plus the water’s resistance helps you strengthen your legs, back, shoulders, core and arms.
Just make sure you warm up and cool down for at least 5-10 minutes before and after your pool running.
Need a break from the impact of running? Swimming is a non-weightbearing activity that gives your legs a break while developing the upper body musculature that is often neglected by runners.
Swimming can benefit all runners, from beginners to veterans, especially those recovering from a long race or an injury. By targeting all the major muscle groups (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abs, lower back and upper body), swimming is a great way to improve your efficiency, strengthen your muscles, and add more training sessions without additional breakdown.
If you’re a regular at the gym, you might have noticed the elliptical trainer. This is one of the most popular cardio machines and also an excellent cross-training activity for runners because it mimics running without the impact.
The elliptical trainer is a weight-bearing activity, but has a very low-impact in the joints. This is the reason why so many runners use this machine to prevent or recover from injuries, while developing the muscle of the core and legs. In addition, if you use an elliptical trainer with arm levers, the pushing and pulling motion allows you to develop a stronger arm swing, helping make you a more efficient runner.
What are your favorite cross-training activities? How do they help you to become a better runner?