Cross-training is an effective way for every athlete, regardless of their primary sport, to increase and maintain fitness levels, while avoiding the negative impacts of overtraining. There are various types of cross-training that athletes can participate in, which provide an array of benefits, including increased endurance, greater flexibility, and increased power and strength.
For runners, it is important to include cross-training in your training regimen to give your joints a break from the high intensity and impact that running can have on your body. Many runners can utilize cross-training as a lower-impact option to maintain their speed and endurance while avoiding injuries through overuse.
What is cross-training?
Simply put, cross-training is the practice of engaging multiple sports or activities in your training plan. For many athletes, this involves focusing on their primary sport while utilizing secondary exercises to supplement their training plans.
What are the benefits of cross-training?
Cross-training helps evenly distribute the impacts that exercising has on your body overall. Many athletes will run into overuse injuries because they solely focus on their primary sport. Even though it is important to dedicate the majority of your time to the sport that you specialize in, it is healthy to vary up the exercises you do to more evenly distribute the impact that exercising has on your body.
What types of Cross-Training Exercises should I do as a runner?
Running is considered a high impact sport, which means it puts intense levels of stress on one’s weight-bearing joints. While running is one of the most effective sports to increase and maintain one’s cardiovascular endurance, it is important to include cross-training into one’s training program. Here are a few examples of cross-training specifically for runners:
Utilizing the elliptical trainer is a great way to maintain one’s cardiovascular endurance, while removing the impact that road-running can have on the joints, especially the knees, ankles, and hips. Each individual can adjust the resistance on the elliptical machine, making it harder or easier depending on their specific goals for that training session. This machine is the closest to mimicking the motions of running but takes out the high-impact aspects. This is great for runners suffering from a slight overuse injury or working to build up their endurance.
Swimming is a great cross-training activity for runners. Swimming is one of the lowest-impact activities, while still providing athletes with a full-body workout. Swimming can also serve as a form of recovery from running as the motion of swimming and cold water help with blood flow and circulation. Swimming is a great way to help you be able to log more miles over time without having to run every single day.
Cycling is an effective form of cross-training for runners, as it mainly utilizes the large leg muscle groups similarly to running but puts less strain on the joints. Like the other cross-training exercises, it is a great way to improve and maintain your cardiovascular health and endurance, while giving your body a break from pounding the pavement. Similarly to swimming, cycling can be utilized as an alternative workout to running but can also be a great recovery workout if you just finished a challenging run; cycling is a great low-impact way to enhance blood flow and help circulate the lactic acid that will start pooling in your legs after you complete your running workout.
So cross-training might be helpful for me?
Cross-training is a great way to vary one’s training schedule and reduce the risk of injury from high-impact exercises such as running. There are many different forms of cross-training that athletes can partake in. The best training regimens include multiple forms of exercise that help athletes maintain their cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility. It’s important to keep a well-balanced training program, so as to not get burned out or injured due to overuse.