Cross Training for Runners

This week in Indianapolis, it suddenly became winter — lots of wind, 20 degree days, and a couple inches of snow. In the winter, it can be tricky to get outside and run during inclement weather. Thankfully, came through again with some great cross-training ideas that can help get you strong through the winter and keep you active too.

“Cycling. Cycling allows you to have a heart-pumping, lower-impact workout. Cycling strengthens the quadriceps, while running more directly works the hamstrings. Harmonizing these two major muscle groups reduces the chance of debilitating leg injuries like Iliotibial Band Syndrome, a condition that may arise when either the hamstring or quad is stronger than the other, creating imbalance.

Cycling also strengthens the core muscles, lending to greater stability. When cycling, open your chest and visualize pulling your navel up and back. Try to maintain this posture throughout the duration of your ride, keeping your core continuously engaged.

Swimming. A zero-impact workout, swimming presents an ideal form of cross-training for runners. Whereas running mainly works the lower body, swimming engages the entire body, working all major muscle groups. Water jogging is another effective low-impact workout for the pool; the water provides natural resistance.

Power yoga. Power yoga may be the ultimate holistic workout — it strengthens and tones all major muscle groups, while increasing flexibility, improving posture, and promoting mindful breathing. Hip opening poses such as pigeon are ideal for runners, lubricating the hip joints and helping prevent injury.

Plyometrics. An exercise training designed to yield fast and powerful movements, plyometrics is practiced by many athletes who desire to enhance their overall performance. In plyometrics, musles are loaded and then contracted in rapid sequence, enabling an athlete to jump higher, run faster, etc. The “explosive” movements associated with plyometics might help a distance runner, for example, run a faster and stronger 800 meter — something she may otherwise find too taxing.”


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