What is Cross-TrainingThe dictionary quotes the following:
The action or practice of engaging in two or more sports or types of exercise in order to improve fitness or performance in one’s main sport.There are many benefits to adding cross-training into your routine, so I have outlined a few below. Active Recovery – Like with any training plan we all need to have recovery and rest days.
- Injury Prevention – Running or doing the same activity every day can lead to overuse injuries in some cases. By adding a couple of Cross-Training sessions into your routine can help avoid this type of injury.
- Enjoying other Exercise – We all love running right? But there is no doubt that doing other sports can keep things fresh.
- Rehabilitation – If you are just coming back from injury, some cross-training exercises can be perfect. I know that cross-training has been invaluable to me at times when I couldn’t run.
- Better Running Fitness – Some exercises when incorporated into your routine can improve running fitness and speed.
- Increased Strength – Running uses a specific set of muscles. With Cross-Training, you can do exercises that use other muscle groups. Ultimately this will give better overall strength but also allow those running muscles to rest.
Cross-Training OptionsNow to the good part. Time to outline what activities you can incorporate into your weekly routine that will help make you a better runner and help avoid those nasty overuse injuries that can occur.
Indoor RowingThe rowing machine is my personal favorite. Whenever I’m not running and I visit the gym, this is the piece of equipment I head for first. As the video above shows, don’t just jump on and start rowing if you haven’t done it before. You really don’t want to be injuring yourself by using incorrect form.
If you haven’t used the Indoor Rower before then watch the short videoThe indoor rower has so many benefits to the trail runner.
- It’s a low impact exercise. Meaning you avoid the overuse injuries that can be sustained by just running.
- It’s a great way of exercising when recovering from certain injuries that prevent you from running due to the low impact nature of the exercises.
- It offers a full-body workout including some of the major muscle groups like your Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Back, and Core.
- Row easily for 5 minutes to warm up; get off and stretch briefly.
- Row two sets of (4 x 400m) as follows:
- Then Row 400m at moderate intensity.
- Row easily for 1 minute.
- Repeat for a total of four 400m.
- Row easily for 3 minutes.
- Repeat for another set of four 400m.
- Row easily again for 3 minutes.
- Row easily for 5 minutes to cool down.
Strength TrainingIt had to be added. Strength training for Ultra Runners is a must. You should be doing a strength routine twice a week alongside your running. Now I’m not saying you need to become a powerlifter all of a sudden. However, the benefits of adding strength training are:
- It will make you and your legs stronger which is important for those long hours on your feet.
- It will make you faster
- You will become more injury-proof
Elliptical TrainerThe Elliptical Trainer is one of those pieces of equipment that are great to use if you are recovering from an injury and want to avoid any impact on your joints. It is fairly light on the body to use, however, when you’re on it make sure you are giving yourself a decent workout. Go to any gym and you will see countless people just going through the motions at the same tempo (slow and easy) and not getting the benefit they could from this piece of kit. If you want to incorporate a good mid-week workout from this machine, here are a few you could try. The Elliptical has a number of settings you can use: Rolling Hills – 30 – 40 minutes at a resistance that’s going to make you work (8 – 10). Tempo Work (as you would Running) – 10 minutes easy at low resistance, 20 minutes at a comfortably hard resistance, 10 minutes low resistance easy pace. Interval Training – 10 minute warm-up at easy resistance and effort, followed by 8 – 10 sets of 2 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy effort, finish with 10 minutes easy effort.
CyclingNot too much to say about this one. Just get out there and ride. Enjoy the scenery, this is active recovery and your legs are getting a decent workout. I don’t tend to do any specific workouts for cycling as I look at it as a form of relaxation and enjoyment when I get the chance.
HikingThis one may seem a bit odd, but believe me, when you run Ultras this is one of the important training elements. If you have done an Ultra you will know that there is a decent amount of walking. Especially up steep hills. When your legs are shot from having just run 60 miles and you hit that big hill, you’ll be glad you did that hiking as you breeze up it. Believe me, when I say this, I have been in multiple races where I have powered walked up a hill keeping up with people trying to run up it. The other point is that when I reach the top of the hill I can start to run again. Those that tried to run the hill, or didn’t train to walk up them suffer badly. Learning to hike at a reasonable pace will keep you on track for a decent time during your races and it’s a nice break from the running while still moving forward.
SummaryThere are many other activities that fall under the Cross Training umbrella. Activities like Swimming, Yoga etc. All of which can be implemented by you if you so wish. For me, Strength Training, Rowing and Hiking are huge parts of my overall training in general. I wanted to outline what is the best cross-training for trail running in this post and I hope I managed to do so. Let me know if you have any other types of cross-training you like to do. Please feel free to leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
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