Tag Archives: cross-training

Why and How to Cross Train

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.

Walking

cross-training-walking

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

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.

Swimming

cross-training-swimming

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.

Elliptical Trainer

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?

Get motivated to start running again

Are you ready to start running again after a long break? Even if you were an experienced runner in the past, incorporating running back into your daily routine can be as challenging as it would be for a beginner. The difference is you already know how great and strong you feel after a run!

It’s time you restart your running engines with these simple tips in mind:

Have a goal

start-running-again

Whether you have just signed up for a race or you want to get off the couch and get fit, it’s always important to have a motivation to start running again.

Start by choosing manageable goals and focus on the path you need to follow to accomplish them, instead of trying to change many different things at once. For some extra motivation, set smaller and attainable milestones and reward yourself every time you achieve a goal with something special that will benefit your running.

Follow a training schedule

We have already mentioned how important it is to follow a training schedule. Not only it allows you to have your workouts planned ahead, but it also helps you to establish a regular running habit and avoid getting injured by working out too much, too soon.

When you get out there, it’s also important to track your runs. When your goal is just getting outside the door, you can simply mark down a “1” when you run, and a “0” when you don’t. As soon as you start to be concerned about mileage, pace and time, it might help you stay motivated and hold you accountable if you write all this information down. You can use a notebook or save your runs from your smartphone, with our running apps.

Don’t do too much too soon

Take-it-slow

Many runners, especially those who are new to running or coming off a long break, make the “too much too soon” mistake. Driven by their excitement, they mistakenly think that “more is better” and end up developing common overuse running injuries, such as shin splints, runner’s knee, or ITB syndrome.

Be more moderate with how often, how long, and how much you run, especially during your first weeks of training. You can start with just walking, and then progress into a run/walk program, such as Ease into 5K, Bridge to 10K or Ease into 10K, depending on your fitness level and your goal.

Make sure you don’t increase your overall weekly mileage by more than 10 percent per week, keep your runs at a conversational pace and always allow your body to rest for at least one day each week.

Cross train to become a better runner

If you’re not feeling the motivation to run, that doesn’t mean you have to let yourself get out of shape. You can still stay active, strong and fit between your running days, with cross-training activities.

Cross-training strengthens your non-running muscles and increases your endurance, without running too much and risking injury. By combining running and other exercises, you will become a better runner and overcome more easily the challenges of coming off a long break.

Swimming, aqua jogging, cycling, strength training, yoga, and Pilates are some of the most popular cross-training activities among runners.

Join a running group

Friendship and fitness in the park

If you used to run by yourself in the past, try to convince your friends to be your training partners or join a running group, and start enjoying the benefits of group training. Besides helping you get out of the bed even when you don’t feel like, meeting other people for a run motivates you to perform better and stick with your goals.

And finding your future running partners is not that difficult! Check with local running clubs to see when they offer group runs, join a charity training group or sign up for a local race that offers free group training runs to registered participants.

Yoga for Runners: 5 Poses You Should Try

Are you feeling sore, tight, or even achy after a run? Then you should probably review your cross-training program and consider including yoga in your workout routine.

Among other benefits, Yoga can reduce the risk of injury, improve your strength and flexibility and help you to recover from long runs and races faster.

If you’re willing to give it a try, here are five poses you should practice on the mat to boost your performance as a runner:

Downward-Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog

Benefits: Helps prevent shin splints, knee and foot problems, and IT-band syndrome. This pose stretches the hamstrings and calves, and creates length in the spine, in addition to opening the arms and upper back.

Instructions: Start on hands and knees. Bring the hands shoulder width apart and feet hip width apart. Press your hands and feet down into the floor. Lift your hip bones straight toward the ceiling and push your heels into the ground for the best overall stretch. Hold for five to 10 breaths.

Upward-Facing Dog

Upward-Facing Dog Position

Benefits: Strengthens your core and arms, while opening the hip flexors and stretching the whole front of the body.

Instructions: From Downward-Facing Dog pose, move into low plank position, by bending your elbows and placing your hands on mat in line with your lower ribs, wrists aligned under your elbows. Roll over your toes, pull your chest up toward ceiling and lift fronts of your thighs and hips away from floor.

Triangle

Triangle pose

Benefits: This pose helps to release the tension in your hips and glutes. In addition, it stretches the hamstrings and inner thighs and allows you to open and expand laterally.

Instructions: Step your feet wide apart. Turn your right leg, including your thigh, knee and foot, out by 90 degrees. Raise your arms to shoulder level with your palms facing down towards the floor and, on an exhale, stretch your upper body to the right. Place your right hand on your shin, ankle, or a stable support and raise your left arm towards the ceiling, with your palm facing forward. Take five breaths. Inhale and allow your body to come to standing. Repeat the pose on the other side.

Cobbler

Cobbler pose

Source: Bliss

 

Benefits: This pose opens the lower back, hips and inner thighs and also helps to release tight adductors.

Instructions: Sitting, bend your knees and draw your heels in toward your pelvis. Press the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop open to both sides. Don’t force your knees down to the ground, but let them drop naturally so you feel a gentle stretch. Lie down on your back and hold this pose for 1-10 minutes.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose

Benefits: Stretches the thighs, groins, back, and psoas. This pose also improves the flexibility in your hips, which will lead to better running form.

Instructions: Stretch your right leg out behind you, and bend your left knee so that your left foot is near your right pelvic bone with your toes pointed. Gently drape your body over the right leg. Repeat on the opposite side.

Is Yoga one of your favorite cross-training exercises? Which poses work best for you?

5 Winter Cross-Training Alternatives for Runners

Winter can be a challenging season for runners. But it also has to offer lots of opportunities to stay active, strong and fit, besides the most common option at this time of year: the treadmill.

Through alternative cross-training activities you can become a better runner by building additional strength and skills not offered by the straightforward movement of running.

Below, you can find 5 ideas that can change your training routine this season!

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing is a great way to continue enjoying the outdoors while getting a complete workout. In fact, the motions and muscles used in cross country skiing are almost the same used in distance running.

Cross-country skiing works not just your lower body, but also your core, back, arms and shoulders and it helps building aerobic endurance with very little impact on the joints and tendons.

Many state and local parks and even some golf courses have trails to ski on. But if you prefer to move this activity inside, you can buy skiing on a gym machine.

Snowshoe Running

Running on snowshoes is a great alternative to your outdoor workout, but it takes some practice when you do it for the first time.

If done on a regular basis, it builds aerobic fitness and strength during the winter months. And once you’re back to regular running again, it will feel much easier by comparison.

Always keep in mind that snowshoe running is much harder than running on hard pavement. So instead of becoming frustrated and feeling out of shape, remember that it’s a different workout than road running.

Ice Skating

Ice Skating

Ice skating is a great addition to your workout routine and you can transform it into a social event and ask your family and friends to join you. This fun exercise will work your glutes, hips and core-areas we sometimes ignore during our runs.

At this time of year, it’s usually very easy to find a place to ice skate nearby.

Aqua Jogging

Aqua jogging is the same as running in the water and it is usually discovered by runners only after they get injured.

The water’s resistance affects your whole body, developing strength in your legs, back, shoulders, core and arms. It’s also great in boosting fitness and adding a non-impact element to your training.

Find a place in the pool where your feet can’t touch the ground and don’t forget to warm up and cool down for at least 5-10 minutes before and after.

Spinning

Spinning

There are several reasons why you should try cycling. It is non-impact sport, therefore easy on the joints, develops your aerobic capacity, improves stride cadence and builds strength in your quads, calves, hips and butt.

Many fitness clubs offer classes and equipment to help you achieve cycling fitness throughout the year, but if you’re not a big fan of gyms, you can always opt to do it at home.

Is your favorite cross-training activity on the list? If not, tell us how you keep fit during the winter months.