The importance of cross training for runners

As some of you may already know I like to run and do it a lot!  One thing that I find very important for becoming a well-rounded runner, preventing injuries, improving my speed and something that most runners chose to ignore is CROSS TRAINING!  In today’s post I will answer some frequently asked questions about cross training for runners 🙂

What is it? 

Basically it is any activity or training that can be used as a complement to your running program.  Cross training can include  strength training, stretching/yoga/pilates, agility/plyometric drills, deep water running (which I tried for the first time last night!), hiking, swimming, cross country skiing, snow shoeing or biking.

Why do runners need to cross train?

To give your body a REST!  Running is one of the best forms of exercise as it is convenient, efficient and a full body workout BUT it is very repetitive and can lead to overuse (or under use) of some muscles.  Most runners can suffer from tight hamstrings, weakened quads and a sore back (unless they are ChiRunners of course!)  It is healthier mentally and physically to ‘mix it up’.  By doing other activities that you enjoy a few times a week you keep your body fresh and it gives you the chance to notice tightness or weakness in other parts of your body.

If you are a runner who is trying to lose weight, strength training is the best way to shed some extra pounds.  Building lean muscle, means you will increase your metabolism and with a proper diet consistent cardio/running workouts this will lead to fat loss.  Who doesn’t want to be as light as possible when running?  Lowering your body fat percentage/trimming inches makes it easier on the joints while running and less chaffing between the legs or under the arms with less fat on your body!

How often should I cross train?

It depends on your schedule but I recommend doing at least 1 day a week of something other than running.  All runners will benefit from doing 2 strength training workouts a week and stretching (or yoga) everyday!

Why do I need to train my legs? Isn’t running good enough?

Running is a great workout for your legs but the running motion works the same muscles over and over again.  Leg strengthening exercises help address muscle imbalances that could lead to an injury.  Lifting weights also adds power to the legs which translates into speed!  I recommend focusing on strength training your legs during the ‘off season’ and doing more maintenance type workouts during training leading up to a race.

The bottom line is this: Find an activity you enjoy (or hate to do because you aren’t good at it but most likely need to do more of) and do it a couple of times a week to give yourself a great mental and physical break from running!  Just ask my clients who run how much easier and enjoyable it is to run with a strong core, legs and upper body and improved flexibility and posture from following a consistent strength training routine.

Contact me for more tips on how to implement cross training into your running/training program.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Les 🙂

3 thoughts on “The importance of cross training for runners

  1. ecinc says:

    Great stuff. I might even start to do it. Well I cross train but might start to introduce some more weight stuff. Happy now?

  2. Greetings! I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the excellent work!

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