Cross training does not refer to those runners who run along the road with stern expressions on their face. Cross training is any form of exercise that is different to running and it can be a group exercise class, weight training or cycling. Many runners tend to only run and this form of exercise may be sufficient cardiovascular activity to keep weight under control, but there are certain muscles that are not used. Cross training will also improve the runner’s overall strength to run better. There are many options for cross training and the runner can choose the exercise that they will enjoy the most. While it is recommended that runner’s perform some type of resistance training, they can strengthen their muscles in any way that works for their body. Instead of doing the circuit at gym, they can join a gymnastics class or try a form of martial arts. Not only will this prevent running injuries, it will lead to meeting new people and doing new exercises.
A big concern about cross training for runners who cannot afford gym memberships is the cost involved in developing a healthy, balanced body. Running is free and the cost of equipment is minimal, but cycling and personal training can be expensive. There are cheaper options such as martial arts classes, outdoor boot camp classes or even buying a DVD to exercise with. Runners can buy a pair of dumbbells and a theraband for their home and download some exercises from the internet or tear pages out of a magazine. Usually these exercises are easy to follow and many websites have videos to demonstrate the exercises. Certain equipment such as a BOSU or fitness circle may be sold with a DVD and this will make cross training more enjoyable and cheaper in the long run – pardon the pun. Another cheap option is to invest in a skipping rope as it helps the runner to quicken their pace, increase stride frequency and increase and power. There are many types of skipping workouts but it is best to start with shorter intervals of less than one minute and then progress to longer intervals and single leg skipping or running skips. Swimming is also a cheaper option although swimming laps is also a form of cardiovascular activity and it is important for the runner to do resistance training. Swimming has the benefit that the joints are not loaded and there is no impact on the body. The water has buoyancy that acts as resistance and there are many exercises that can be performed in the pool with less stress on the body.
Balance training recruits the muscles you use while running and improves stability. A strong core also helps the runner balance and decreases the chance of injury.
Cross training negates the monotony of running and it also gives the muscles time to relax while other muscles do the work. This will decrease the incidence of overuse injuries and boredom and keep the runner passionate about running.