After committing to my first half marathon nearly five years ago, I was sure that “more miles” was the way to go. Which, to be fair, I was training for a race. However, after being introduced to Orangetheory and broadening my knowledge within the fitness industry, I now realize how beneficial the supplementation of differing forms of exercise can be during training. Having run a handful of races since, I speak with full certainty that the addition of cross training has impacted my training and overall running performance. So I’m here to elaborate on cross training and the benefits that can aid in your BEST road race yet!
What is cross training?
Cross training is the supplementation of any form of exercise outside your “main” sport or movement. For somebody that is training for a road race, cross training could include swimming, yoga, strength and/or agility training.
Benefits of Cross Training
- Prevents injury. Though injury throughout your fitness career is likely inevitable. There are ways in which you can aid in the prevention of them, especially as a runner. Adding in a low-impact form of movement lessons the impact running will leave on your joints over time.
- Balances your muscle groups. Cross training can balance out the muscles that aren’t being utilized nearly as much while running. (upper-body, back, etc.) Having a strong upper body aids in the forward movement of each stride. PLUS! Strong ab and arm muscles provide additional support and coordination.
- Boosts your performance. Along with the ease of your stride, cross training can impact the efficiently in which your body uses oxygen while running. Since your body is running more effectively, the time in which you are able to spend training without accumulating fatigue or getting injured will increase. Dare I say personal best!?
- More sustainable (post race). After the miles have been achieved and the finish line has been crossed, the commitment to running may become increasingly more difficult to maintain. Having an “off season” fitness routine equipped with your favorite non-running activities will help keep you physically fit and mentally recharged for the next round of races.
- Beat boredom. Physically, running can be exhausting but mentally, running can be, well, boring. By adding in a swim or HIIT class here and there, you can easily break up the mileage and beat the boredom that comes with the monotony of the miles.
How Often Should You Incorporate Cross Training into Your Training Regime?
Your specific training routine should be personalized to best suit you and your fitness goals. However, it’s important to remember that cross training is meant to enhance your running routine, not hinder it. Moderate the time, intensity and and frequency of your cross training in order to elevate your running routine. It’s recommended that 2 to 3 days of (moderate intensity) cross training is best during training season.
My Current Cross Training Routine:
I’ve found that 3 days is my cross training sweet spot. For me, maintaining lean muscle mass is important therefor Orangetheory Fitness is the perfect compliment to my training program. PLUS! the additional running is beneficial in keeping mileage up during the week. I too have found that my body (and joints) appreciate a once-a-week yoga class. The lower-impact that yoga provides allows me to stretch a little, sweat a lot and gear back up for the higher intensity work ahead.
I’d love to hear what your favorite form of cross training is! Let me know in the comments below.