I am a firm believer in cross training. But like most runners I know, sometimes it can be easy to slack off and not devote the time to it. Honestly, I stopped cross training the last month before I ran the Chicago Marathon. I was so exhausted from my training that I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. However, I know it’s important and am committing to making sure I don’t ditch it during my future training cycles.
I think there are lots of reasons that cross training is important—and here are my personal top three.
The break from running is always a good thing.
My personal favorite method of cross training is Pure Barre. I love just breaking up running with something that is different. It helps clear my head and makes training hard fun because running isn’t the ONLY thing that I’m doing. It’s also fun—I have a whole set of Pure Barre friends that I love seeing and working out with.
The overall fitness gains are critical.
While I’m a firm believer that in order to be a better runner, you have to run often, I also am a firm believer that working other muscles in other ways will strengthen your body so that you can run faster and run smarter. When my core and back are stronger, I can hold my body in the proper form while running—which helps me run faster and further.
Cross training will more than likely greatly improve your form.
This goes along with number two, but those fitness gains—especially core strength—will help you maintain your form while running. I know that when I get tired, my form starts to break down. Simply being physically stronger, allows me to maintain my form longer, even when I start to tire. After I ran Chicago, my shoulders were incredibly sore the next day. I knew exactly what that meant—it meant that as I tired during the race, I lost my form and hunched my shoulders up to my ears. After miles of doing that, my shoulders were exhausted. I definitely think that ditching my cross training for the final month of marathon training contributed to this.
There are so many reasons cross training can make you a better runner. What is your favorite form of cross training and how often do you do it? I strive for two Pure Barre classes a week.