Tag Archives: cross-training

Running 101: Indoor Workout Alternatives

Winter.  Summer.  Each comes with its own set of weather based challenges.  From high temperatures to icy roads anyone can get forced into an indoor workout once in a while.  While it might seem like the dreaded treadmill is your only option there are plenty of alternative choices that are equally as effective at working you out.  As long you’re not ditching all your miles trying one of these alternatives will keep you safely inside and ensure a quality workout.

Water running.  If you have access to a pool water running can be a great option.  Frequently used as a tool for injured runners to stay in shape while the heal, running in deep water with the aid of a floatation device is a great alternative to dangerous outdoor conditions.  Pushing through the water will strengthen muscles and hip joints while still getting your cardio in.

Strength training.  Every runner needs strength training.  It provides tons of benefits from increased endurance to better form and faster times.  There are thousands of options for exercises and classes out there so find something you like.  Focus on higher intensity activities with weights on the heavier side to build running muscles.  Perform exercises that strengthen your entire body so it can support you for as long as you want to run.indoor workout

Plyometrics.  Plyometrics can fall under strength training or it can be performed on its own.  Jumping is a great way to build running power.  Whether it’s box jumps, jump rope or lateral bounds jumping around will get your heart rate up while making your quads, hamstrings, hips, knees, ankles and feet stronger.

Yoga.  With the massive variety of yoga classes available at most studios you’re sure to find something that will get your heart rate up.  Mobility is a big issue for lots of runners but having a good range of motion is incredibly important.  This indoor workout will help you stretch, open up joints and relax all at once.

Coach Meredith

Running 101: Cross vs Strength Training

Often used interchangeably, cross training and strength training are something all runners should have in their training plan.  They are, however, not the same activities.  Cross training is any activity that increases or maintains your fitness while giving you a break from your most trained modality.  That means biking or kayaking if you’re a runner and swimming or rowing if strength trainingyou’re a cyclist.  It also means strength training.  Strength training is a type of cross training that makes your muscles stronger, not just give your body a variety of stimuli.

Cross training makes us better athletes.  It gives our bodies different stresses to respond to and leads to more flexibility with improved coordination.  It helps prevent injury, aids recovery and staves off boredom.  Having options other than running is also a must for when the weather gets ugly.  Too hot, too icy, too windy or too dangerous, you don’t need to miss a workout if you have a solid cross training option ready to go.

Strength training, on the other hand, is meant to make us stronger.  Building muscle mass isn’t strength trainingour goal as runners but being tougher is.  A weak core means poor posture and less speed.  Stronger legs generate more power and last longer in a race.  Unilateral strength exercises eliminate muscle imbalances and improve balance.

Runners should focus on exercises and activities that will strengthen running specific muscles while being sure not to neglect your incredibly important upper body.  Improve power with box jumps and jump rope.  Maintain good posture with push-ups and pull-ups.  Keep your core strong with planks and sit-ups.  Stay even with lunges and step-ups.

Any quality training plan will include both cross training and specific strength training.  They are key elements in building a quality athlete who is injury resistant and ready to compete successfully.

Coach Meredith

Cross-Training: Cycling for Runners

All runners know cross training is an important part of an effective program.  The real questions are what kind is best and how often should it be done.  The answer depends on you as an individual athlete but here are a few reasons you want to give cycling a try.

Cadence.  Running at an appropriate running cadence has big benefits.  Hitting 180 steps per minute can reduce injury risk, increase speed and create more efficient movement.  It’s a lot easier to hit that rate of turnover when you’re cycling than when you’re running, especially in the beginning.  Match your pedaling and the metronome’s beat to train your nervous system for faster leg movements then watch it happen on your next run. cycling

Muscles.  Pedaling away for an hour doesn’t work muscles the same way as running.  Instead, it builds complimentary muscles that help turnover and strengthen your core.  While both sports use your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves, cycling is a different movement with different muscle fiber firing demands.  Giving those muscle groups a different job makes them more adaptable and able to tackle tough challenges.

Low Impact.  Cycling is a low impact sport.  It builds cardiovascular fitness without pounding your bones on the road.  Giving your body a break from the things it’s used to doing help it heal and relax.  That’s a huge plus for recovery.  Riding a bike is also a good tool when you’re coming back from an injury.  It keeps you fit without opening you up to the chance of re-injury.

Options.  Picking a bike as your cross training tool gives you lots of choices.  You can take an indoor cycling class with your best runner friends or hit the trails on your mountain bike for some peace and quiet.  Try intervals on the road or a long slow ride to lunch and back.  As long as you have a helmet, you’re good to go wherever your heart desires.

Grab your bike from the garage and go for a ride or find that next spin class at your local studio.  Your body and your next race will thank you.

Coach Meredith

Cross-Training to Run Faster

With the spring training season gearing up and dreams of new PRs, there’s no better time to add cross-training to your plan.  A workout that doesn’t include running is considered cross-training and is a must with any training plan.  With an option out there for everyone, it’s easy to find something you enjoy doing while giving your body a break from the pavement.

It’s true.  No matter what you enjoy doing outside of going for a run there’s something for you.  Yoga, swimming, cycling and Crossfit all get the job done while making you a stronger athlete.  Here are some of the big benefits you’ll get from adding two or three non-running sessions to your weekly plan.

Lift weights.  Strength training is a great way to resolve the muscle imbalances many runners experience.  We’re all naturally stronger on one side than the other and running just makes that more pronounced.  By training unilaterally, one side at a time, with exercises like walking lunges, pistols and side planks, you’ll be a more balanced and less injury prone athlete.  Strength training also increases running economy which might just mean a new PR.

Move your legs.  Spinning or cycling is a fun alternative to hitting the track.  It’s also a great way to work on increasing your cadence.  A higher cadence means more efficient running and the cross-trainingbike is a perfect place to get your legs used to moving faster.  Cycling with tension uses leg muscles similarly to running uphill without the impact, reducing risk of an injury while building strength.  Hit the trails on a mountain bike or join a spin class to reap the benefits.

Less stress.  Swimming, cycling and rowing are low impact activities that increase fitness without additional stress on bones.  They can lower your risk of overuse injuries and stress fractures while improving overall cardiovascular capacity.  Even strength training can be considered low impact and is hugely beneficial to runners.

Mix it up.  Try different types of cross-training.  There’s no reason your non-running workouts always have to be the same.  Changing the stimulus your body experiences constantly to get stronger, fitter and faster before you know it.  Mountain bike on Monday, take a yoga class on Thursday and a recovery swim on Sunday to keep muscles challenged without overuse.

Find something you love.  The key with cross-training is to find something you enjoy doing.  You might even find more than one thing you love.  You’ll have the opportunity to meet new people, push yourself in new ways and have fun.  No matter what that activity is, you should look forward to your non-running workouts.

The most important thing about cross-training?  Be sure your alternative workout isn’t so hard it takes away from the quality of your target training runs.

Coach Meredith