I’m off cruising down to Bermuda, but a few stellar bloggers are stepping in with some pretty sweet guests posts for you all.
Introducing Rebecca from One Foot 2 Foot. Rebecca is an adventure junkie. Get this, she started running when a boy she had a crush on invited her to do a half marathon with him! Some first date, huh?! She hasn’t stopped running since. Seriously, she’s training for her first ultra marathon (a 50k)! She might be Forrest Gump’s long lost sister; she’s definitely one amazing chick. Besides running, she’s into yoga, paddle boarding, hiking, traveling, and staying positive. I hope she inspires you as much as she has inspired me.
A few weeks ago, I cheered a friend across the finish line on his second marathon. Totally to my surprise, he came in a full 37 minutes faster than the first marathon he ran in January – 37 MINUTES! I was amazed! Here was this guy who dragged his feet when I told him to run the winter 26.2 miles with me – completely blowing his old time out of the water and setting a new PR.
I’m always looking for ways to improve my time, so of course I asked how he did it. Here’s what he told me:
Well, really the only thing I did differently was my training. I mean, I still ran and increased my mileage or tempo each time – you know, I still trained for my marathon. But what I found that worked best for me training wise was upping how much time I spent cross training.
Really? I cross train, but pretty sure I don’t get those same results.
Yep. And I did it all. Biking, swimming, cross fit classes, ballet…you name it, I’ve done it!
Cross training is one of the new-ish fitness fads that you should follow. And though not everyone will have the same results as my friend, it’s definitely something worth your time. Why? There are several reasons that cross training is beneficial to your workout routine and can increase your overall performance. Here are 6:
- Injury prevention – with running, overuse injuries are all too common. Implementing cross training activities to your routine can help you ease into the sport by reducing the amount of impact your body absorbs.
- Active Recovery/Rehabilitation – there will be times when you pull, strain, roll or overwork a muscle or joint. There will obviously be periods where outright rest is required in order for proper healing. When that’s not the case, cross training keeps you from completely staying out of game and losing muscle endurance while recovering with active recovery sessions.
- Increased Running Fitness – the running you’re doing now is great, don’t get me wrong. With the implementation of cross training, it will enhance your running power, efficiency and time it takes to recoup/bounce back from an injury or fatigue.
- Rejuvenation – not every runner lives in a climate where they’re able to run outside during every month of the year. That’s ok! If you want to run better next year than you have this year, give your body & mind a break from “formal” running training and learn to “play.”
- Enhanced Motivation – regardless of your passion for running, there will be times when you’ll hit a plateau. You lose your running mojo. It gets boring; mundane; repetitive. Cross training can help you keep your enthusiasm for fitness, helping you train harder and more consistently.
- Helps You Enjoy Other Sports – cross training can be and should be fun! You may discover hidden talents, make new friends and fall in love with another sport (which wouldn’t be as bad as it seems, trust me).
Cross training is how you spice up your running life! It also allows you to use and strengthen muscle groups you’ve not yet used a ton OR develop new found strength in muscles you already use. Growing up a dancer, I thought I understood the benefits and necessity of cross training. However, it wasn’t ‘til I really dove into running that I realize just how amazing mixing up your fitness routine can be! It’s great for your body, your mind and your sanity J
Here are some of my favorite ways to cross train:
Cycling – this one is huge right now. Everybody’s biking…just like when we were kids! Running and biking were our main forms of transportation. Cycling works your quads, gluts and calves, leading to more explosive strength. It’s another way to have a high intensity workout without all the pounding your body takes from running.
Swimming – these workouts help build strength, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility especially in the shoulders, core and arms. The water provides a zero-impact environment and aids in recovery and injury prevention, making for great workout sessions! Some great things to do in the pool for training: swim laps, “run” in water, water aerobics (before you bash the blue-hairs that all gather in the community pool for this, give it a try. You might be surprised at how aerobic it can be…and how sore you can be after).
Hiking – love this one especially during the Spring/Summer/Fall months. It’s an aerobic activity that gets your heart pumping and targets your quads, hamstrings, gluts and calves. It allows time to explore, distress and work your muscles all at the same time.
Kayaking/Canoeing/Paddle Boarding – if you’re looking for a good upper-body workout, these two outdoor activities are it! Paddling activities are an awesome way to incorporate every muscle in the upper body and some in the lower as well. On average, you’ll put your paddle in the water about 500 times, engaging muscles in your back, chest, stomach and arms each time!
Skiing/Staking – both of these are great for the winter months and will give you an awesome quads/gluts workout. Add in the hip flexor workout from Snowshoeing and the total body workout from Cross Country Skiing, and you’ve got a sweet setup of snowy activities to make you sweat.
Yoga – LOVE me some good yoga! This will increase your core strength and stability, help you learn to breath through your workout, increase flexibility and recover from workouts. A few deep yoga stretches after a quick warm up and after your runs will aid in loosening your muscles.
Pilates – huge shout out here. Pilates and yoga are both tough mother activities! If you want awesome core strength and stability to support you through your runs, do a combination of yoga and pilates. (I personally love the reformer tables). It’s an amazing way to provide power through total body connectivity and developing strength in your actual core, not just your abs.
Basically, cross training rocks. You can do it by yourself. You can do it outside or inside. You can bring friends. You can join a club and make new friends. You can do it all year long.
Along with targeting muscle groups, increasing strength, explosive power and flexibility…why should you cross train?
Because it helps you find the fun in fitness again! And, of course, because it helps you train and perform harder, better, faster, stronger.