If you’re a runner, chances are that you’ve already heard you need to incorporate cross training into your workout schedule. But have you ever wondered why? There are many benefits associated with cross training, but the two most significant benefits for runners are:
1. Cross training prevents over use injuries. Cross training gives your hips, knees, shins, ankles and feet a break from the repetitive impact of running. At the same time, doing a different form of exercise can strengthen other muscles in the body (ones that don’t get built up by pounding the pavement) so that they can help support and stabilize the ones you need to maintain proper alignment as you run. Depending on the activity you choose cross-training can also stretch out sore muscles and improve flexibility and range of motion, all of which takes a load off of joints and muscles that have been stressed out by the miles you logged during active training.
2. Cross training provides an active recovery. Are you the type of runner who laughs in someone’s face when they tell you to build rest days into your training regimen? Cross training should be your best friend! Cross training lets you stay active while still resting sore/tired muscles. It can be particularly effective for already-injured runners who want to stay in shape during their recovery period.
Once you know the why, the how is pretty easy. Choose a favorite activity-- swimming, cycling, weight training, yoga—and try to incorporate into your training schedule at least twice a week. Not only will you enjoy the benefits discussed above, you also just might discover a new passion!