By: Angela Ciroalo
In this article I will share my experience with over-training and how it led me to recognize the importance of cross training for runners and athletes alike.
How Over-Training Led Me to Love Cross-Training
In the beginning of the summer I, like many other runners, selected my next big race. I chose a fall marathon to motivate me to train throughout the summer.
I excitedly marked the date of the race down on my calendar and counted the amount of weeks I had to train. I studied the course. I read the race reviews. I even purchased new shoes and shoe-inserts to ensure injury prevention.
Since my last marathon in November I continued a frequent running schedule. I ran one high mileage run, one speed workout, and one interval workout, per week. I felt great and fully prepared to begin training for my next marathon, or so I thought.
I was nearly finished with my first week of training when I ran into an unexpected road block. I turned the corner to finish the last straight-away of my final run for the week when pain shot down my iliotibial band muscle and down into my knee. I ran a few more steps and the pain did not dismiss, therefore I decided it was best for me to walk.
I felt defeated. I wondered what I did wrong and whether or not this would prevent me from competing in my next marathon.
Without jumping to conclusion, I decided to take it easy for the next few days. The following day I attended a Pilates class.
The day after, I ran on an elliptical.
The third day I went for a bike ride.
By day four I noticed I was sore from the different types of exercises that I had been doing. The soreness led me to a realization; I had been so focused on running to prepare for the next race that I was completely ignoring the muscles in the rest of my body.
My main focus was the amount of miles I ran per week and the time that I was able to complete each run in.
The aches and pains I felt were all overlooked. The monotony of my workouts was overlooked. And, most importantly, the stress my body was feeling from only running – was overlooked.
I, like many runners, was caught up with the ambition to run farther and faster. I had become so engulfed with perfecting my running that the other areas of my bodies were dismissed, leading to an overuse injury.
Why Cross Train?
According to marathon runner and author Matthew Fitzgerald cross training for runners can aid in preventing injuries, create quicker rehabilitation time, create greater aerobic fitness, increases the runner’s power, and improve the runner’s efficiency.
Some runners believe that there is no replacement for running. This approach may work for some, however I found in my experience that it did not work for me.
I experienced a very common overuse injury which I am working to rehabilitate and strengthen through cycling, shorter runs, Cybex® Arc training, strength training and Pilates exercises.
None of these exercises were included in my previous training plan. Since incorporating these exercises I feel stronger, faster, and as if my overall fitness level has improved dramatically.
In addition to incorporating these change in my training schedule I decided to run a half marathon instead of a full marathon this fall.
The cross training activities that I will have been working on are only a few of the many exercises available.
Types of Cross Training
Photo taken from completetrackandfield.com
The website Marathontraining.com lists several types of cross training that specifically benefit runners.
Cross training exercises recommended for runners by marathontraining.com include; cycling, swimming, the Elliptical trainer, Cybex® Arc trainer, deep water running, an Ergometer (rowing) machine, Nordic Track Ski-Simulator machine, Stair-Master, Versa-Climber, walking and strength training.
The American Running Association [ARA] references studies that proved the benefit of cycling, weight training and walking for runners.
The ARA found in a study completed by the University of Utah that interval cycling workouts increase speed without the impact of running sprints.
The ARA found in a study completed by Ron Johnston at the University of New Hampshire in Durham that resistance weight training in the upper and lower parts of the body increased runner’s speed in a 10 kilometer run.
The ARA stated that walking is another beneficial activity for runners. The ARA referenced the Jeff Galloway Marathon Training Program, which educates runners on the benefits of walking and running slowly, and found that walking can improve runner’s endurance.
Another area of cross-training to consider is taking exercise classes. Activities such as Pilates, yoga, Zumba, cardio exercise classes and aqua classes, will each offer different benefits to runners.
Each of the cross training activities listed are beneficial to runner’s seeking to avoid injury and improve fitness level.
We are all different; the cross training exercise that works best for you may not work for me. Try giving each of the different types a try, allowing yourself to explore what works best for you and your body.
This month’s inspirational running quote to get you started towards better health comes from runner, author and columnist John Hanc,”At least 99-percent of running is just showing up, getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other.”
This article was adapted from an article published in Night & Day Magazine
❤ Wishing you love, joy and blessings,