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Cross Training for Runners

Posted on June 4th, 2018 by Andries Lodder

By Jennifer Steele

What is Cross Training?

Cross training refers to the inclusion of different and varied exercises, that supplement and differ from the exercise or event for which you are specifically training for. When speaking specifically in term of running, cross training then refers to cycling, swimming or strength training. When these varied exercises are included it not only builds strength and flexibility in the muscles that running does not target, but it also takes the impact and pressure off the muscles that do take impact during running. When doing strength training the same muscles groups required for running are generally targeted, but they are loaded in such a way as to help increase the power and strength of the muscles. In doing this it helps build the speed and strength of the runner, as well as helps protect them from injury. Cross training also helps prevent boredom and burnout.

Reasons to cross train:

The exact type of cross training done will vary from person to person, dependent on the reason for doing the cross training. Some individuals cross train because they are injured and need rehabilitation, others want to add extra training without increasing their mileage, while others simply want a bit of variety in their program.
Injury Rehabilitation and Recovery:
For those that are injured to is important to stay fit and active while allowing their injury to heal. Doing exercises that are pain free and that will assist in recovery are important.
Adding Intensity:
Many people want to increase the amount of training that they are doing. However, if they increase their mileage the likelihood of developing an injury goes up. Cross training therefore allows them to add to their running without increasing the risk of injury.
One of the most common reasons for incorporating cross training into their programs are that

Tips for cross training:

  • Similar muscles and energy systems should be worked to that which are needed in running.
  • Focus initially on stability as this will help prevent injury both in running as well as when doing other forms of exercise.
  • Include core strengthening exercises as a strong core will help prevent injury and improve overall efficiency in all movements.
  • Make sure training is sport specific
  • Once a strong, stable base has been built more explosive, plyometric exercises can be included.

Important Exercises to Include:

Here are just 4 exercises that runners can include their training programs that will help with their stability, mobility and strength.
Sideways walking:
  1. Place Loop band/Thera Band around the thighs, just above the knees
  2. Stand with feet hip width apart, toes straight, knees bent, bum out backwards
  3. Now take a step with the right leg out to the side, keeping the knees out in line with the toes
  4. Then bring the left leg inwards so that the feet are back in the starting position, again focusing on keeping both knees out in line with the toes
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have completed 10-20 steps and then repeat on the left leg.
  6. Perform 4 sets of 10-20 repetitions on each leg
Wall Squats:
  1. Stand with toes as close to wall as possible
  2. Feet just wider then hip width apart, with toes pointing outwards
  3. Hands above the head in a V position
  4. Keep head straight, do not look to the side or down
  5. In this position, squat as far down as possible without lifting the heels or falling backwards
  6. Return to starting position
  7. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions
 Step Throughs:
  1. Start in a push up position
  2. Step through with the right leg, placing the right foot next to or as close as possible to the right hand
  3. Keep the left leg as straight as possible
  4. In this position bounce the hips lightly up and down
  5. Return right leg to starting position
  6. Repeat on the left side
  7. Perform 3 sets of 5 repetitions per leg
Scorpion Stretch:
  1. Start lying on your stomach, with arms out at your sides, head down straight
  2. Now lift the right leg and foot off the ground
  3. Bend the knee and aim the right foot towards the left hand
  4. Keeping the right shoulder flat on the floor
  5. Return the leg to starting position
  6. Repeat on the left side
  7. Perform 3 sets of 5 repetitions per leg
There are many exercises that can be used by runners to cross train. In particular focus should be placed on stability, strength of the core, gluts, hamstrings and quadriceps, and ensuring that all exercises are done with the correct form and bio-mechanics. For an individualize and specific program that is tailored to your specific needs contact us here. We can help you increase your speed, endurance and overall performance, while preventing injuries and over-training. Image above is owned by Trainer Academy

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