Cross-training is something that I have been enjoying a lot since May and that is also recommended by the marathon plan that I follow. Here are 5 useful cross-training workouts to boost your running and my tips to incorporate them in your training.
I have been doing more yoga this year and I think this is the cross-training that has improved my running the most. I spend a lot of my day studying at the desk and yoga helps me to release all the tension, especially in my hip flexors and upper back.
My tip: There are many styles of yoga to choose from. Try a couple of styles before deciding that yoga is not for you. I like Vinyasa for an intense workout and Yin for a deep stretch session. Both styles or more can be found on Pactster. If you want a yoga session even more targeted to your running, try Jasyoga, which is really great to hit reset on common runner’s weak points.
Strength training is great for runners and many of us don’t hit to weight enough. It’s a great way to strengthen weak areas and prevent injuries. For instance, if like me you have a problematic ITB, you might want to incorporate in your routine some exercises that target the gluteus medius. I also find that working on my core and arms has been really helped with keeping a good posture during my long runs. Don’t forget that open chest = better air entry to your lungs.
My tip: Make sure that you research correctly the exercises and use appropriate weights as good form is essential and there is a high risk of injury is not done correctly. Beware of not working too much on antagonistic muscles to those used in your running as this could be counter beneficial. Why not try these exercises from Runner’s World to get started?
Cycling is a great low impact aerobic exercise that will complement your running on a cardiovascular and strength level. However, do not think that you can totally replace your running by cycling. Indeed, the oxygen requirements are greater for running than cycling and the lactate threshold that you will get is slightly different for the two sports (more explanations can be found here)
My tip: Cycling can be easily incorporated in your training regimen by making it part of your work commute. If like me you are too scared of cycling in busy area, why not take a spin class. Personally, I love BOOM cycle in London, read here why.
Rowing is highly recommended by the Run Less Run Faster marathon plan which I followed. Rowing is a great full body workout as on top of being a great aerobic exercise, it will target your quads, core, back and arms just to name a few.
My tip: I was scared of using the rowing machine until I asked someone to show me the correct technique. Now I love it! Like for any exercises, don’t forget to warm up before rowing. I like to do dynamic drills as part of my warm up, such as squats, lunges etc.
As my physio says, I would not need physio for my knee and back if I were a swimmer…Swimming is another amazing low impact, aerobic, full-body workout. I find swimming especially good to target my upper body and more specifically my back. At the time I had access to a swimming pool. I had a session with a PT to improve my swimming technique and avoid just splashing the water…
Here are Chris Cook,Olympic swimmer and World Championship medalist, ten top tips to improve your front crawl:
- Make yourself as stretched out as possible.
- Keep your body position as flat as you can with a slight slope down to the hips to keep the leg kick underwater
- Look slightly ahead and down
- Reach out as far as you can with the pulling arm as it enters the water
- Pull back in an S shape so your arm comes back to your leg.
- Keep your legs close together and ankles floppy in a continuous motion
- Kick from your hips, not your knees
- Make small fast kicks, not large down and up beats
- Keep one side of your face in the water as you turn to breathe
- Don’t lift your head out of the water, the more your head raises the more your feet will drop. (Keep that long line so your neck is in line with your spine).
I am about to run 26.2 miles in one day. Could you swim 22 miles, the length of the English channel, in 12 weeks? Aspire, a national charity offering practical support for those with Spinal Cord Injury has set this challenge for the 16th consecutive year. The swim challenge started on the 14th of September and will
swim run until the 7th of December. With the help of Chris Cook’s swimming tip, why not attempt the challenge and help raise funds for Aspire? I would, as I need another challenge with the marathon training coming to an end, but unfortunately I do not have access to a pool at the moment.
For more inspiration on how to get into swimming, check out Elle’s blog and her recap of the swimming challenge she undertook with Speedo earlier this year.
I hope that these cross-trainings will boost your running. I will certainly be doing a lot more of the above very soon as my 2015 race season is coming to an end.
What is your favourite cross-training exercise?
This post contains some affiliated links to help a medical student get her caffeine intake. All opinions are my own.