Top Reasons Why Runners Should Cross-Train
There is much more to running than just putting your running shoes on and getting a move on.
If you want to compete and participate in races, marathons, and everything in between, your body needs a lot more care and nourishment than just trying to run as many miles as possible, as quickly as you can.
Of course, it’s important to be in good shape and give it all you’ve got when you’re on the track, but you should work on improving your strength and injury resistance in the process, too, which is where cross-training comes in.
There are different approaches and opinions when it comes to cross-training, as some believe it’s pretty much redundant, while others swear by it. The truth is that if you’re taking your running seriously, upping your game will be necessary, which is why we’ll talk about the top reasons why runners should definitely give cross-training a chance.
1. You’re Working on Your Aerobic Fitness
However, there are different types of cardio, and one thing’s for sure – they all bring different benefits that can help runners a lot.
Maybe you decide to give cycling a chance, or maybe you prefer swimming; both are a good idea. Even yoga is excellent for boosting your aerobic fitness, which in turn reflects as better endurance on the track. Plus, your body is becomes more flexible, thus reducing injury risks. Speaking of injuries…
2. You Keep Injuries at Bay
photo by Rob
“Wear and tear” syndrome is omnipresent in athletes, which means they need to take special care of their whole body, as it is constantly subjected to stress and strain.
Cross-training can do wonders for you in terms of reducing injury risks, simply because you’re focusing your attention on everything that is happening to your body, aches and pains included.
Runners focus their energy on developing muscles that are crucial to their running, while all others aren’t as important. This is a bad idea, seeing that for optimal performance, your entire body needs to be in balance.
Doing light strength workouts like pool running can do wonders in protecting your muscles from injury and getting all less used muscle groups back in shape. Also, elaborate stretching on your rest days is a great idea as it lengthens your muscles and makes them more flexible and less injury-prone.
3. Rehabilitation Is Easier With Cross-Training
If an injury does happen and you have to let go of your running regime for a while, cross-training can help you stay in shape as much as possible. Aqua jogging is excellent rehabilitation for runners that have had problems with ankle sprains and foot injuries.
You still get some work done, but your joints are under impact as much as they would be when you’re running. Also, you’re building strength in the process, which is always beneficial.
Of course, when you’re coming back to running after an injury, it’s important to take extra care of how you’re handling your routine – don’t overstimulate yourself when you do get back on your feet, adopt good healthy eating habits, and be very careful even when it comes to cross-training. You don’t want to deal with injury recurrence, so it’s vital to know just how far you can push yourself.
4. You Will Run Like the Wind
Cross-training will have a significant impact on your running performance and that impact will show gradually.
If you dedicate some of your time to strength training, be it plyometrics, squats, deadlifts, or planks, your body will work better as a whole and you will have more power in your run, especially when it comes to long-distance performances.
It’s a good idea to work on strengthening your core, as it is your center and crucial for moving properly; this especially goes for your oblique muscles that help you stand up straight and grounded.
Benefits here are anything but negligible – your stamina will improve, as will your running efficiency and muscle flexibility. All of this allows you to run faster and stay safe.
5. Cross-Training Shakes Things Up a Bit
One of the worst things that can happen to any athlete or fitness enthusiast is to get bored with their workouts. No matter how much you love running and it helps you relax, sooner or later you’ll find that doing same old, same old makes you lose motivation to give it all you’ve got.
Cross-training is here to shake things up a bit because a change in pace is often all you need to get your enthusiasm back. Combining your love of running with other workouts a couple of times a week will make all the difference; your performance will improve, as will your desire to be the best you can be.
Combining cross-training with your running aspirations will only help you in getting better on track, which is your primary goal after all. Even if you’re still not quite convinced of the benefits of cross-training, give it a go and see how your body and your running routine improve and grow.
Monica Nichols: Being a writer and fashion designer is a dream come true for Monica Nichols. Since she was a child, she knew her artistic tendencies would determine her life. A beloved writer of Diet.st, she is 32 and currently living in Omaha, Nebraska. Monica likes to spend her time doing yoga and going to live jazz gigs whenever the opportunity arises.