Cross-Training: A Beginner’s Guide For Runners To Stay Fit And Healthy

Replacing your gentle weekly runs with a variety of other exercises can have a significant impact on your endurance and overall strength. This is the basic concept of Cross-training.

Running causes some muscle breakdown in your body that is again repaired-this is a natural process. The rate at which the repair occurs governs how rapidly you recover from intense training sessions.

Cross-training aims to fasten the repair rate by distributing the stress to different parts of the body instead of specific muscles. This will not only reduce the likelihood of injuries but will also enable you to exercise for longer periods with more intense workouts.

Why Cross-train?

1. Variety– The longest that you will be able to workout by only including running in your routine is 20 minutes. After this time, the lactic acid build up on your muscles will create cramps if you stress yourself any further.

A mixture of intense workout sessions alternating with less intense routines will enable you to have longer workouts.

2. Makes Workout More Fun– Working out requires an immense amount of dedication and patience for most of us lazy people. (Yes, we are guilty of binge-watching on the couch too much as well!). Thus it is incredibly easy to fall back to the unhealthy lifestyle once working out loses its charm.

3. This is Chere Cross-Training Comes Into The Picture To Save The Day (and your health!). Having a mixture of training sessions may seem like a lot of work at first glance but this variety will keep you pumped up and anticipating the next sessions eagerly.

You would no longer need to rely on your workout buddy to drag you out of the couch, instead you will be starting the sessions early by yourself.

4. Strengthen The Rest Of Your Body- Running only works out your leg muscles but by incorporating in cross-training into your daily routine you will be working out your whole body.

Strengthening your upper body will also bring a noticeable improvement in your running as well. As a result your stamina will also increase and you will get tired less easily.

After a long, hard run, the most probable solution may seem to be resting your legs. However, you can opt for non-weight bearing exercises like biking or swimming instead.

Swimming is a great cardio activity that works your heart and lungs while simultaneously releasing the strain on your leg muscles by the passive kicking motions.

5. Reduces Muscle Injury– As already mentioned before, the variety of exercises will put less strain on your leg muscles thus reducing risk of injury and downtime for recovery.

6. Increases Flexibility– by including yoga and pilates which stretches your muscles, you will increase your range of motion which further prevents muscle injury.

What You will need?

For beginner runners, the most important item that you will own are your running shoes. A good pair can make all the difference in your performance.

Ill- fitting shoes are not only uncomfortable to wear but carry serious risk of injury and pain from poor posture and non-uniform weight distribution on your feet.

To help you have a good idea and guide you to invest in a long running pair of shoes (pun intended!), head onto this link to find out how to improve your chances of reaching the finish line first.

Furthermore, you should also ensure you wear comfortable clothes so that it is not too tight to irritate you with sweat after sessions or too loose that may interfere with your workouts.

How to Get the Most Out of the Workouts?

Runners To Stay Fit And Healthy

1. Be Regular– to make the most out of any workout, consistency is key. Incorporate it in your routine from the get go.

2. Choose One– there are many types of cross training but it is best to stick to just one. Test out to see which activity is best suited to your needs in terms of endurance, ability and time. You will also notice that it is easier to keep track of progress with one activity which will surely happen with cross-training.

3. Prevent Injuries– this often happens for beginners who overwork themselves. To prevent this, consult a gym instructor to teach you how to properly utilize gym equipment.

4. Let Effort Guide You– keep your cross-training activities for the same period of time as you would running with the same effort to prevent overexertion. For e.g- If you run comfortably for 30 min then that should indicate how long you should cross-train.

5. Enjoy– working out should make you sweat but not make you cry. Find out ways to make workouts more enjoyable and a fun activity to look forward rather than a chore on your to-do list. Listening to music or audio books or catching up with the latest episodes of your favourite TV show during workouts will make you want to work out longer.

Timing Your Workouts

Some options that you may try out-

  • Run 4-6 days a week and cross-train the day before your long run to rest and prepare your legs.
  • Run 4-6 days per week and cross-train after your long run to recover from the strain.
  • Run 7 days weekly and cycling or pool running as part of cross-training to speed up recovery and ensure aerobic fitness.

Experiment to see which routine suits you best.

The Options

1. Elliptical-Gives you a run-through of all the motion ranges of running thus stimulating the nervous system to retain muscle memory while resting muscles and tendons of running.

2. Rowing Machine– this hard but great cardio should be started gradually and will boost your upper body and core strength.

3. Stationary bike– Cycling serves as dually effective. Pedaling while standing works out the running muscles.

The Workouts

1. Beginners– Warm up, then “run”the elliptical, spin, or row at a very easy pace or resistance for two minutes. Increase the intensity or resistance for two minutes. Repeat the sequence three or four times, then cool down.

2. Moderate – Complete one sequence of the easy workout (above) and also walk for 10 minutes. Then do this: “Run,” spin, or row easy for three minutes, followed by three minutes of increased intensity or resistance. Repeat the sequence three or four times, then cool down.

4. Hard – Complete one easy workout, walk for five minutes, complete one moderate workout, walk for five minutes. Then do the following: “Run,” spin, or row easy for one minute, doing two minutes at a moderate pace, then one minute hard. Repeat four times, then cool down.

Conclusion

Cross-training if used properly can quickly become the reason behind a successful running career. Stay in shape and updated about improvement techniques. Don’t forget to eat and sleep well as health ultimately decides performance. Just keep running!

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