Cross Training - The best ways to improve at running when you're not running.
What does cross training for running mean? Why can't I just run more to get better at running? Both great questions, and tips4running has the answers.
Below is the quick list of activities you can do. If you want more information on each activity, keep on reading.
1. Core Strength Training is a must for any runner. Get stronger in that midsection and help prevent a side stitch.
2. Circuit Training - A weight lifting program specifically for runners.
3. Biking - Exercise bikes, or on the open road.
4. Swimming - Traditional swimming or running in the pool.
5. Yoga or Pilates - Both great for strength and flexability.
6. Aerobic Classes or Dance - Get your heart rate up while having some fun.
Sticking around for the in depth explanations. Excellent! Knowledge is power.
First off, cross training involves any exercise that could help you to improve as a runner. The more traditional activities include, biking, swimming, and lifting weights. There are many other activities that can be included. Cross country skiing, yoga, pilates, dance classes, rowing, stair steppers, and playing basketball (watch out for injuries) are some of the great things you can do to suppliment running. Pretty much anything that gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time can be considered cross training.
Now, why not just run more? Well, running is a high impact activity. Every step puts a lot of pressure on the same muscles, ligaments and joints. Some peoples bodies can take the pounding, but most people break down after a certain amount of time, and suffer a running injury. Cross training helps you avoid injury, and keeps you in top shape.
If you run more than 20 miles, or 35 km a week, you should really consider some other activities to help with your running. By taking up a different activity, it also can prevent you from getting burnt out on running. I'm not big on biking or swimming, but I like to lift weights. I didn't know what cross training activity I liked, until I tried to swim, bike and lift.
Let's briefly go over some workout ideas for cross training. First up is working that midsection of yours.
1. Core Strength is a must for almost any runner. You can do a lot of different activities that can improve your abdominal and lower back strength and stability. Sit-up routines, using different fun equiment, and even doing dance routines can develop your midsection.
2. Circuit Training involves some leg work, but mostly focuses on strengthening your upper body. It can be done without the use of weights, but is much easier to do in a weight room. Basically you do 12 different lifts. Only two of them focus on your legs. The rest work on your chest, shoulders, arms and back. This workout usually is sandwiched by riding on an exercise bike, or by running a mile before and after the circuit lifting routine.
3. Biking in another great activity. You can do this on an exercise bike, or out on the open road. On a nice day, I would always suggest going outside, but be safe. If you are riding the bike, wear your helmet, and bright clothes. An exercise bike is convenient if you have access to a gym, or have one in your home. Riding the bike will get your heart rate up, and save your legs from some pounding.
4. Swimming or pool running are both great low impact exercise. You can get an excellent workout, and it is much easier on your joints. Even if you are not a swimmer, you can run in the pool. Just watch out for the deep end.
5. Yoga and Pilates offer great opportunites for runners. You can increase flexability and overall joint and tendon strength. This especially valuable to runners who tend to feel tight when running.
6. Aerobics or dance classes offer another opportunity to increase your fitness. For fun, whenever I see an infomercial on TV about the latest exercise video, I try to copy the moves. My favorite to try right now is "Core Rhythms." I don't own the videos, but I try to work my midsection during the ad. It does feel like my abs are working.
There is a lot more information to come on this subject. I plan on having links on many of the cross training activites soon. Continue to check this link on tips4running to see each topic in further detail. Take care!
- Written by David Tiefenthaler
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