Welcome to Day 6 of our Devoted New Year series! Today we are talking about cross training! These posts are brought to you by Meridith creator of Devoted Training; a 52 week faith-based training journal, and myself. We hope you enjoy!
Cross training is an invaluable tool to any athlete who has ever faced an injury, but it is also a great tool for any athlete wanting to get faster without having to increase volume. The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training produced a book called Run Less Run Faster in which the authors claim that cross training provides the same benefit as running additional miles. They cite many research studies of athletes getting faster on just three days a week of running and three days a week of cross training.
Cross training is not a perfect substitute for running but it does offer many benefits to a running program. Cross training:
- Makes training more interesting
- Reduces vulnerability to overuse injuries
- Can be used as active recovery
- Recruits facilitating muscles and strengthens them
- Increases muscle’s ability to utilize oxygen and fat as energy sources for exercise
- Provides options when running is not possible (such as weather or family obligations)
If you have ever heard of runners “doing doubles” they mean running two times in a day (not to be confused with running with a double stroller-ha!). This is a great stimulus to take running to the next level because it increases growth hormone while also increasing aerobic capacity. The value of cross training is that it can also be used to “double” without introducing the same risks of running two times in a day.
Pregnancy is another great time to rely more on cross training, as a growing belly makes running more uncomfortable. With the gait changes associated with pregnancy, more running will not necessarily make momma any better of a runner than if she exclusively cross trained. The most important thing in pregnancy is to maintain a good aerobic base, and cross training is a great source for that. (One caveat, we all know that running makes runners very happy, and pregnant mommas can use all of the endorphins they can get to counter some of the crazy hormones that are required to grow a human.)
Runners who cross train only when they are injured have a greater tendency to run when they shouldn’t. By being familiar with your favorite cross training technique, you can better translate your running program to a cross training program in the event that you do face an injury.
Popular cross training options include:
- Pool running
- Hiking/Treadmill hiking
- Stair climbing
As with any new regimen, ease into cross training and allow your body to adapt to the new movement and demands. Enjoy the process and variety of a new routine with the added benefits of becoming a faster and stronger runner!
Do you cross train regularly? What are your favorite cross training tools?