When it comes to running faster most of us have figured out that to run faster we need to run OFTEN and FAST, but there are several different cross-training methods that can greatly enhance your running. Some of the benefits of cross-training are increased aerobic fitness, better recovery, more flexibility, injury prevention, breaks up the monotony, more efficiency, as well as increased strength. In this blog I am going to discuss the 5 best activities for cross-training to improve your running.
- Swimming- Swimming will work every muscle in your body, as well as provide for minimal impact. I recommend swimming on an off day from running or after a hard or long run to help speed recovery. Swimming can also be very therapeutic and feel very refreshing on your body to give you that recharged feeling you are looking for.
- Cross Country skiing – Not only is cross country skiing a lot of fun, but it is one heck of a workout. Much like swimming, it will work your entire body and especially focuses on core strength. It’s always preferable to do the real thing outside in the snow, however if you do not live where it snows, you can usually find a machine at your local gym that will replicate the sport.
- Cycling- Many runners that get on a bike find they share one thing in common and that is their quadriceps are screaming! Cycling focuses mainly on the quadricep muscles in your legs. Strong quads provide the support your knees need to prevent injury from the pounding your body receives when running. Many of us have not been on a bike since we were a child, so I recommend trying a stationary bike at the gym first to get a feel for the pedaling action involved and then hit the road or trail once you are comfortable!
- Yoga- Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years and there is a reason why. Some of the benefits of yoga are improved posture, greater flexibility, improved balance, as well as reduced stress. There are countless yoga classes in most areas and I recommend you give it a try. I have seen many runners start yoga as little as 1 day a week to see the benefits!
- Pilates/Barre class- Pilates and Barre classes have become extremely popular in mainstream fitness today. Not only can these types of classes help the general public, but they also provide many benefits for runners. Some of the benefits are increased flexibility, more efficient breathing, improved body mechanics, improved strength, and the most important benefit is that it makes your core stronger. Runners tend to have a weak core and by making your core stronger you will be running faster, as well as holding much better form every time you head out the door for a run.