You can’t pick up a copy of Runner’s World without seeing an article on cross-training. Why? Because your running can be better – faster, further, and fewer injuries – with intelligent cross-training.
- But it’s not just about going to yoga, or CrossFit, or pilates, or some other group class.
- And it’s not just about going to the gym for squats, lunges, curls, and bench press.
Each of these options can be the right one: assuming you’re clear on your A and your Z – where are you starting, and where are you trying to go?
Have you gotten injured running, or cross-training, in the past? Do you have other injuries that need to be trained around, or could you even help to fix them with your training? Your cross-training plan should address your injuries, or at least avoid making anything worse. And often, cross-training will give you a way of staying active while allowing injuries to heal. Summary: cross-training can address injuries, and can keep you moving if you’re injured.
Are you training for an ultra-marathon, a 5k, or a sprint? Your cross-training needs to support the goals you’re working towards. Complimentary training sometimes builds the same energy systems we need for your event (e.g. endurance training for a marathon), often in the early phases of preparation. In other cases, often as we get closer to an event, we’ll use complimentary training to balance out your energy systems training (power output for marathoners, or endurance training for sprinters). Summary: cross-training can and should support your goals.
Are you running to get fit, healthy, or to lose body fat? Running is a terrific endurance builder, but unless you’re sprinting, it isn’t effective at building strength and muscle – and that’s important to remember. Strength equals stability equals durability; in other words, as you get stronger you’re less likely to get injured. And muscle is your friend – muscle burns calories even at rest (making fat loss easier) and muscle mass is negatively correlated with mortality (more muscle = live longer). Summary: cross-training can accelerate fat loss, and lengthen your running career (and maybe your life).
But not all cross-training is created equal.
The group fitness class at your local gym may focus on strength, but will it help you with single-leg stability? (You know those moments in every run when your entire body weight is coming down on one leg? Yeah, that matters.)
A CrossFit program will build your endurance and redline capacity (all-out power and speed), but will it focus enough on moving well to ensure you don’t increase your risk of injury?
Yoga may make you more flexible, but is more flexibility what you really need? Most of us need more flexibility in some areas, and more strength in other areas – is your yoga practice giving you the right thing in the right places?
What should you look for in a cross-training program?
If you’re looking for a cross-training program to support your running career (or habit), you should ask these questions:
- Do you assess individual athletes to understand where each is starting, and to understand where they’re going?
- Do you provide programming and attention to each athlete to ensure they’re getting more stable?
- Do you monitor your athletes’ running performance to ensure your program is making them better, and not worse?
- Do you have training in coaching running form? Can you help me to learn to run better, faster, and more efficiently?
- Do you balance strength and flexibility training to reduce the risk of injury?
If you’re looking for a cross-training program, and your potential coach can’t give you an immediate “yes” to all five of these questions, I suggest you look elsewhere. And if you’re looking for a coach who can say yes to all of these, you should take one minute and fill out the form below. We’ll follow up to schedule a free consultation, and we’ll see if Wasatch Fitness Academy is a good fit for you.
P.S. We have a Form First Running workshop coming up on Saturday, February 24 from 10am-12pm. More details about the workshop are in the video below, and you can register here.