Cross-Training: Part 2

So last week, I talked about incorporating cross-training into my schedule. I used to run almost daily, figuring that more was always better. I have found, however, that trading some of my runs for other activities has allowed me to run longer, faster, and with fewer injuries.

Here are my favorite non-running activities:

Yoga
Initially I resisted yoga – it just seemed so boring. But after my PT suggested it, I begrudgingly went. At first I only went as a way to rehab my injury, but eventually I actually started to like it. Yoga has not only helped strengthen and stretch my body, but has helped me to relax (something I don’t do well). Plus power yoga is anything but boring – it’s really hard!

Strength Training
As a runner, it’s easy to ignore muscles not directly involved in running. This can lead to imbalances, weakness, and injury. Incorporating strength training is a great way to develop both running and non-running muscles. There are lots of resources for runners looking to incorporate some strengthening activities. I can’t say I love strength training yet, but someone did comment on my arm muscles the other day – I guess those push-ups are paying off!

Little weights for my little arms!

Little weights for my little arms!

Biking
As the proud owner of a new bike, I have been doing a lot of this lately. Biking is a great way to get your legs moving without the pounding of running. It also works your legs in a totally different way. I like to think of myself as having pretty strong legs, but the soreness after my long bike ride the other day quickly humbled me!

Helmets allow for safe and stylish cross-training. Well, maybe just safe...

Helmets allow for safe and stylish cross-training. Well, maybe just safe…

Elliptical
The elliptical doesn’t have the best reputation. For many it conjures up the image of someone spending hours on the machine without ever breaking a sweat. While the elliptical is easy to use ineffectively, it can also be a great tool. In the spring, I took time off from running to heal an injury. My PT had me replace my running mileage with time on the elliptical. It simulates running, but without the same strain. When I was able to run again, I had not lost nearly as much running fitness as I had expected.

What are you favorite non-running activities?

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Cross-Training: Part 1

When I first started running, I didn’t really do any other forms of “exercise.” I was generally active – taking dance classes, walking whenever possible, and doing the occasional push-up. But other than running a few days a week, I didn’t give much thought to training my body in other ways.

As my running progressed, I worked up to running 5-7 days a week. While I enjoyed running daily, my body slowly began to revolt. My knees hurt and needed constant icing. I had nagging pain in my hips, which forced me to cut runs short. Even my back started to bother me, aching when I was sitting or trying to sleep.

Overtraining leads to fashionable footwear...

Overtraining leads to fashionable footwear…

At 27, I was not ready to be in constant pain – so I made an appointment with a physical therapist. He changed the shoes I was wearing and worked on my running gait. But his main advice was that I cut down the number of days I was running and add other activities into my routine.

Taking his advice turned my running around. Despite running less often, I have managed to get faster and am in training for my first marathon. While I still get sore from running (20mi will do that), the pain I was having before has subsided.

Now I typically run no more than 4 days a week and try to take 1 day completely off from any intense activity. On my non-running days, I incorporate a variety of other activities to supplement my training.

Stayed tuned for Part 2, I’ll tell you what my favorite cross-training activities are!

Do you incorporate cross-training into you schedule?