People sometimes ask how I’ve been able to avoid injuries over years of running. While I don’t profess to understand myself (other than just being darn lucky), I do believe that cross training has helped.
Many runners don’t do much, if any, cross training. One of the benefits of cross training is that it helps strengthen the muscles that support proper running form. A runner with good overall muscles strength is typically able to maintain proper form during longer workouts, thus avoiding some of the trauma caused by sloppy running technique toward the end of a hard training session.
Julie Fingar, a renowned trainer and running coach, was recently featured in a Wall Street Journal story highlighting the importance of cross training for endurance runners. Julie tells of being able to improve her client’s performances, as well as helping them avoid many common running related aliments, by having them run less and incorporate cross training as part of their workout routine in exchange.
Cross training doesn’t have to be done in a gym. Many outdoor activities–mountain biking, climbing, Stand Up Paddling, for example–are excellent ways to realize the benefits of cross training in a fun and engaging way (though I’m now using the ElliptiGO almost exclusively to cross train for leg strength and cardio). Let’s face it, if you’re not enjoying the activity you probably won’t keep it up.
So find something that you dig and build it into your overall fitness program. Even at the expense of logging fewer miles, your times (and number of injuries) may actually both decrease as a result.
Okay, I’m off for a paddle.