Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Cross Training

Cross training is an important part of any training schedule, and can do a lot to help you achieve your fitness goals, whatever they may be. With the right approach to cross training you will find that there are several advantages that will make your running even better. I thought it would be helpful to write about some of the benefits as well as some tips specific to running.

One of the main advantages of cross training is that it work muscles in your body that you would not be able to work by just running. Swimming and cycling are great sports for runner to use as cross training, and both will provide a different workout for your body that you would not get from running. I love to mountain bike, and just spent all weekend in Dumfries cycling on the various 7 stanes routes down there. This provided a great workout for my quads (the front leg muscles) that I would not get if I was just running. Mountain biking also provides a great core workout which will help with balance for your running. The other amazing thing about biking (of which there are many) is that it is low impact. So you are not going to be hammering your knee joints in the way you do while running.

Me and Euan at biking in Dalbeatie
Cross training also provides a welcome rest from running. I know myself that sometimes I can get a bit bored running 3-4 times a week. By adding another sport to the mix, I find that I become excited about getting back to running. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. You will also notice the difference in fitness and feel that your running is improving, thus providing motivation to keep going.

Cross training will also help with your overall cardiovascular fitness. Cross training on rest days is great because as I mentioned before with biking or swimming, there is little to no impact. But both sports are great for improving cardio fitness and will allow you to run for longer. Cross training is also fantastic for active recovery, so if you have been out for a massive run, and are looking for a warm down, why not hop on the bike. It will increase your stamina, and by allowing your body to recover while active, you will speed up recovery more so than if you were to just rest outright.

I recommend cross training to everyone who is seriously interested in running and improving their fitness.

Your turn: let me know what you do to cross train. Do you not enjoy cross training at all? Would you rather spend all your time running?
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