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Donnerstag, September 22, 2005


Whether you race or not, cross-training is extremely important for all runners. It builds your "non-running" muscles and balances muscle groups. It boosts cardiovascular fitness and adds variety to a routine. Cross-training can help prevent injury and most important, it can improve your running performance.
The question is how to incorporate cross-training into your routine. That depends on your goals and interests. To help you choose what's right, we've assembled a list of the most popular cross-training activities from a runners' perspective. Cycling & Spinning Cycling and spinning are two of the most common cross-training activities for runners. Biking can work your leg muscles even harder than uphill running, but without the hard impact. With spinning classes, typically, instructors will crank up resistance to simulate tough uphill rides, or use one-minute 'burns' spent out of the saddle to condition the quads (a muscle group that is weak in many runners who avoid cross-training). It should be noted these hard spinning sessions are not meant as a rest day. If you want to use spinning as a recovery session, check with the instructor for an appropriate class.
Swimming When it comes to cross-training, some runners swear by swimming. It provides an excellent aero workout, making it a great option for marathoners and injured runners. Swimming primarily builds upper body strength. So while running hard two days in a row isn't advisable, it's okay to swim hard the day after an intense run -- because you're working completely different muscle groups.
Elliptical trainer This machine has key advantages for runners, especially when compared against indoor treadmills and stairstepping machines. Because the elliptical trainer closely mimics the natural foot motion of jogging but doesn't require lifting the foot, its motion is completely fluid and non-jarring. This makes it a great cross-training choice for injured runners. What's more, the elliptical trainer works your arms and legs together. This makes the exercise more intense in a shorter time span, while also boosting overall strength in a way running doesn't. To get the most out of an elliptical workout, spend 1/4 of the time going backwards (running backwards) to work the front of the legs.
Rowing Rowing is a cross-training classic. For runners looking to balance their core area with the strength they have earned in their legs, this is a great choice. Rowing works your arms, shoulders, back, and more than anything—your abdomen. Whether you're rowing indoors or out on a lake in summer, the benefits can be dramatic. The one thing to practice if you're new to rowing is form. Have a qualified trainer check that your posture is correct to maximize the workout.
Speedwalking Not too long ago runners tried to avoid walking. Yet now it has become an integral part of marathon training for some runners. That's because speedwalking, or "fitness walking", works your running muscles without as much impact. But a word of caution: just because you can run 10 miles, don't think you can speedwalk as far right off the bat. While the two activities have obvious similarities, they do use some muscles differently. Your butt and hips may get quite sore after 5 or 10 miles, so you'll want to ease into distance speedwalking.
Yoga & PilatesYoga is one of the most dynamic cross-training activities. That's because it can be used to build all around body strength, while also stretching and conditioning "running" muscles. Yoga improves balance, increases range of motion, and some use it as a way to relax the day after a long run. Many runners also like Pilates, a similar physical and mental conditioning program focused on improving flexibility and strength—without building bulk. Pilates is a great way to improve posture, lengthen muscles, and develop core abdominal and back strength—all integral to running performance.
Step Aerobics & Fitness DanceOne of the most basic daily movements makes a great cross-training exercise. Step aerobics delivers a heart-pumping lower body workout that is much easier on joints than running. Class instructors will teach the basic moves and then put them together in a choreographed sequence. But the beauty of it is, if you know the simple moves, you can do this kind of cross-training almost anywhere. Fitness Dance, growing in popularity, takes a similar approach. Instructors teach moves one-by-one and then put them all together in one dance routine. The result is a cardio workout that raises heart rates to that of an intense run, but without the harsh impact on knees, ankles and joints.
Strength Training / Weight LiftingStrength training is doing exercise that uses your own body weight for resistance (such as pushups and sit-ups). Weight training uses weights for resistance (such as the shoulder press or leg curls). Some studies have shown that strength and weight training can improve running economy, which means running faster with the same oxygen uptake. In high level runners, this can mean clipping valuable seconds or minutes off 10K times. For the majority of casual runners, the added strength can have the same effect, and help create a more enjoyable running experience.
Cross Country Skiing & SkatingSimilar to the elliptical machine, cross-country skiing is another complete body workout for runners—without the hard impact. It incorporates upper body, lower body and core strengthening with an intense aerobic workout. Skating – both on rubber and on blades – is another great cross-training activity because it works lateral muscles, which help trail runners improve performance.
Keep it FunBefore starting cross-training, first assess your goals, and start slow. Try to find a group or class to learn more about the sport or activity. Do your research. But above all, have fun. Ultimately, these are activities meant to boost your running performance, and you'll be far more likely to stick with it if it's something you genuinely enjoy.