Three Reasons New Runners Must Cross-train

Woman-on-BicycleFor people who are new to running, adding in “cross-training” to a schedule can seem overwhelming. Other runners who are getting into training habits often don’t want to cross-train for fear of losing progress. However, cross-training needs to be a part of your exercise routine.

Cross-training for runners involves activities, such as biking, swimming or yoga, that exercise different muscles and are not as high-impact on the joints.

“While cross-training sounds like a break and is less intense, it actually helps strengthen the entire body and supports healthy, effective training,” said Gabe Stinson, a sports enhancement specialist with Memorial’s SportsCare.

Still not convinced you need to cross-train? Stinson gives three reasons you should:

1.  You’ll prevent injury.

The more you do the same thing, the greater your chance of getting a repetitive injury. Think baseball pitchers. They don’t pitch a game every day; they rotate every five days or so. Cross-training not only helps you develop a variety of physical skills, it also allows the joints, muscles and tendons most used in running a break.

2.  You’ll enhance your performance.

Giving yourself a day of rest helps the muscles you use to run repair and get stronger. You also can choose to do a different type of cardio or strength training on your off days. For example, lifting weights — whether it’s free weights or machines — helps different muscles get stronger, which in turn enhances your running. These changes in exercise are beneficial for the body because they also cause muscle confusion. If you do the same thing every day, you’re muscles will get used to it and you’ll stop improving. By doing something different, your muscles are able to keep improving.

3.  You’ll stay interested.

Exercising the same way, every day, gets boring. It’s like eating the same thing for breakfast every day. After a while, you’re not looking forward to breakfast anymore and may just skip, or resort to an unhealthier alternative. Exercise is the same way. Cross-training breaks up the routine and the monotony so you’re motivated longer.

Thinking of starting a running program? Or perhaps you are an experienced runner. No matter your ability level, Memorial’s SportsCare can help you.  Sign up for the 2014 Women’s Biathlon, then join our Biathlon Brigade to train. For more information about the Biathlon and services available for all athletes, visit our website.