Want to run better? Then try taking a break from running once or twice a week. However, that doesn’t mean you can sit on the couch. Instead, cross train.
Many runners have discovered the advantages of cross training, and many training plans include an “XT” (for cross training) one or two days a week. Cross training is simply a non-running aerobic workout that is substituted for one of your running workouts. Substituting an alternative fitness activity supports both your running program and your overall running goals.
What are the benefits of cross training for runners?
Give your running muscles a little rest. In cross training, you are using different muscles or using the same muscles in a different way. The result is less chance of over-use injuries, and you’ll increase overall muscle strength.
Maintain your fitness level despite an injury. If you are injured from running, cross training allows you to maintain fitness by exercising without causing additional damage to your body – particularly pounding of the legs.
Add intensity to your training schedule. While you might not want to do more than one long run per week, it’s not difficult to add one long bike ride without it impacting your running. Because activities like cycling and swimming are non-impact, you can go hard in your cross training workout with less chance of injury.
Lessen leg stiffness. Cross training on the day after a hard or long run will help get rid of stiffness. Without subjecting your legs to more pounding.
Maintain your fitness level year round. Through cross training, you can maintain your fitness in the winter months; particularly, if cold and bad weather keep you inside and you just can’t face the treadmill.
Put variety into your training. Just running, particularly on the same route, can quickly get boring. Cross training offers a different experience.
Now that you know some of the benefits of cross training, the next step is to learning what types of cross training exercises work best in certain situations.