Cross Training: Resistance + Running

Cross training as defined by Runner’s World, as a combination of exercises from other disciplines, different than the sport the athlete normally practices.  In the case of runners, cross training may include swimming, cycling and doing other types of fitness when they are not running.

Cross training strengthens ancillary muscle groups, improves flexibility and reduces muscular imbalances all of which help prevent injuries. Cross training also adds variety to the athlete’s workout schedule.

According to Runner’s World, runners benefit from cross training in three main ways.

Strengthened Hamstrings

The quadriceps muscles have a tendency to become over developed in runners. The muscle is already much larger and stronger, generating 1.5 times more power than the hamstrings. Using a lighter weight to strengthen your hamstrings can help to prevent imbalances and potential injuries.

Yvonne demonstrates how to do a standing leg curl using a 4.4 lbs Gravity Ball, a suitable weight for those starting off with hamstring exercises.

Increased Upper Body Strength

Training your upper body not only improves your running form but also improves your body’s oxygen utilization capacity. For a runner new to resistance exercise, two important things to remember are to using a proper weight (one that is not too heavy) and focus on maintaining proper form and posture during the exercises.

Yvonne demonstrates chest flies using the Gravity Ball.

Here is a more advanced pushup variation for upper body and core.

Improved Flexibility

Practicing yoga, Pilates or doing some basic mobility movements combined with stretching can help runners to improve flexibility and loosen tightness in their calves, hips and hamstrings. The trick is to listen to your body and to not push a stretch too far so that you strain a muscle. Instead, use the time to improve mental focus and acuity while working out some tight areas.

If you're a runner, strengthening your hamstrings to prevent imbalances of your quadriceps, improving your body's oxygen processing ability while improving running form and increasing your flexibility - all are vital to injury prevention.

If you're a runner, do you currently cross train? What has been your experience with is so far?