Running is one of the highest participating sports in the world and there's a good reason for that. Running is the best way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn body fat in the shortest amount of time. It's a simple and inexpensive sport to jump start and it's good for your overall health. So, once you start to put one foot in front of the other, get some miles under your belt and then run your first event. . .then what? Yes, you become addicted! Your entire mindset starts to change because you accomplished something that possibly weeks prior you thought it would be impossible. Now what? What do you do next? How can you get stronger and faster and AHHHH. . .better?. . .the answer CROSS TRAINING!
Yes, running is the highest participating sport but it's the one sport with the highest number of injuries as well. Yes, you improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn body fat faster but if you are looking to get lean, mean and become a machine, cross training will help burn body fat over a longer period of time. So, once you are ready to go to the next level, where do you begin? Well, lucky for you, you have options.
I would first suggest starting with a personal trainer. Why? A personal trainer can assess your basic fitness level and provide a strong base to start from. Second, a personal trainer can introduce you to cross training exercises safely and effectively. Many of us just hit the gym and wonder later why we are still getting injured? Well, there is a proper way to hit the gym and a PT can show you how. **Small Tip: A good personal trainer is there to set you up to workout on your own correctly.** Third, having that one-on-one contact is so beneficial in getting the results that work specifically for "you".
Next, there are group training classes like Body Pump, Cross Fit and "runner specific" Boot Camps that can get your body moving in ways that running can not. Back in 2008 when I started to get involved with cross training, particularly Body Pump, I noticed a change in the way my body looked and how it reacted in my running events. I noticed all of my times drop considerably from my 5K time to my 1/2 marathons. I felt stronger and lasted longer during my events!
When you are running, the body works in what trainers call the medial or sagittal plane. That means your legs and arms move from front to back to put your body in motion. When you cross train you have the ability to exercise the body in the frontal plane (moving the body from side to side) and also the transverse plane (rotating the body using your upper and lower body). When you move the body in these different planes you build muscle and exercise tendons that you normally do not use in running. This allows your body to resist injury, build muscle to protect tendons/bones and gives you more power when you run. If you watched any of the "behind the scenes" coverage of Olympic runners training regime, they use weight lifting, TRX training and plyometrics to gain power.
This week, I will introduce you to various types of cross training for runners. Just remember, if you are putting in a lot of miles during the week, there is no need to load on go heavy on your legs. Keep it light and simple, just enough to maintain what you have and never hesitate to talk to your trainer on what will or will not work for you as a runner. If you take a group fitness class, you should be directed by your instructor on what you should use and how much you should use when working out. You can always ask questions before and/or after class on what is appropriate for you as a runner and NEVER stop asking!