If you are training for a race then you should just run right? I mean practice does makes perfect.When you vary your runs, such as your long, slow run and then your tempo or fartlek runs, it helps to increase endurance and speed. This info alone is the reason why some people choose just to run for training purposes. Which is 100% okay. But, research has shown over the years that cross training can not only help improve endurance, your cardiovascular system, speed, but even your form!
Look at athletes as a whole. Football, basketball, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse players all hit the weight room a few days a week to cross train. Male or female, you see them busting their butts, repping out exercises, spinning on cardio bikes and dripping in sweat on the stairmaster. Why? Improved muscle strength allows athletes to gain more power, speed AND REDUCE INJURY!!!
Runners partake in a sport that leads to injury mostly due to overuse. Some runners respond better to just running for training, and again that is completely okay. Others though see vast improvements with cross training. To reduce the impact of the constant pounding on your body when running, weight lifting, spin classes, aerobic classes, etc. can lessen the load on your muscles while still getting your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system in shape! Not only will the spike in your heart rate help with your speed but your muscles will grow as well!
Females already have a disadvantage to injury in any sport. The way our pelvis is shaped leads to an increase in stress placed on our knees. Hence the reason why more women tear their ACL’s compared to men (fun fact of the day). Because of the shape of our pelvis, our hips are usually weaker and cannot support our lower extremities all that well. By strengthening our glutes, quads and hammies we are helping our body function more efficiently and reduce the risk of injury! Win win. I mean who doesn’t want shredded leg muscles and run faster than the wind? Am I right?!
So what constitutes as cross training?
Spin class, barre class, weight/resistance lifting, boot camp classes, kickboxing, Insanity, P90X, etc. Pretty much anything that gets your heart rate up that doesn’t involve running. So you have a plethora of options and no excuses.
I am incorporating insanity 2x a week and weight lifting 1-2x a week into my training schedule on top of running. My body responds better to more cross training weekly than running. I recover better and my speed is not so sluggish with less running. I must say my calves are on absolute fire today from doing insanity yesterday that I walk absolutely ridiculously.
My next race is only 6 weeks away!! Holy cow. This will be my 4th half marathon! I am hoping to do one more half in March here in SC and cross your fingers for me because I am setting my sights on running my first full marathon in May!
Happy Running! xx