Add This to Your Training Routine: 3 Reasons Runners Need to Cross-Train
Hey, we know when you get in the groove taking a day off of running can be tough. Rain or shine it’s treadmill, road, trail, hill sprints, and track work day after day. The blinders of being in training mode are great but do yourself a favor and add some cross-training to your regimen. Whether you have to force yourself to take a day off of running or the monotony of running every day warrants spicing it up a bit, cross-training is an essential part of training a lot of runners like to ignore.
What is cross-training?
Cross-training is broadly defined for runners as other forms of workouts such as cycling, swimming and strength training that supplement running. The goal is to build strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn’t utilize.
“For elite and recreational runners alike, cross-training can help reduce injuries, accelerate recovery, and help improve speed by increasing aerobic fitness, power and efficiency.”
The case for cross-training
If adding some variety isn’t reason enough, here are the top 3 reasons to incorporate cross-training into your training routine…
1) Less injuries
Many overuse injuries are caused by instability in joints and inadequate strength in stabilizing muscles. Proper strength training and flexibility work can help correct these issues before injuries flare up. Running is a high impact sport and can take its toll on joints and muscles as the miles start piling up. Supplementing your training with bike or swim workouts can help keep you on pace with your training while taking the pressure off of your joints and help prevent common overuse injuries like shin splints and knee pain.
Greater aerobic fitness
When you’re trying to get stronger or faster it makes the most sense to run more. The best runners in the world consistently run 100+ mile weeks during heavy training (crazy, right?). But who’s body can withstand that much repetitive impact on a regular basis? The good news is that adding cross-training into the mix allows us to add volume and improve our aerobic fitness without such a heavy physical toll. Cross-training enables you to build a big cardio base more quickly and effectively than can be accomplished by running alone.
You might also like this post on the importance of training your slow twitch muscles
3) More stride power and efficiency
Strength training, specifically power movements and plyometrics, can help increase stride power and make you a stronger and faster runner. An increase in stride power translates into greater stride length and reduced ground contact time for faster race times.
“By adding one or more non-running workouts to your weekly routine, you can drastically improve your running technique, speed and stride length.” – Samantha Clayton (former Olympic sprinter)
Nothing can take the place of hitting the road or trail, especially during heavy training, but adding biking, swimming and strength and flexibility workouts can definitely help improve performance and reduce injury rate. Start slowly when changing up your training regimen and make sure you do your research before adding something new to your routine. A change in training (especially if it’s adding strength and mobility work) can cause muscles you didn’t even know you had to get sore, so don’t overdo it and give your body ample recovery time.
If you need some inspiration, here are 7 cross-training workouts for runners to get you started.