Cross-train to be a winner in 2014:

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Cross-train to be a winner in 2014, by Apex Clinic:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that runners in search of personal bests and long stretches of injury-free training, must cross-train.

This month, the team at Apex Clinic looks at how cross-training will help your running by improving your fitness, preventing injury and busting the boredom of your running regime.

Cross-train to stay injury-free and improve your performance:

Cross-training refers to the use of alternative sports or exercises to supplement your running training.  Not only does it build strength and flexibility in the muscles not used during running, cross-training also prevents overuse or repetitive strain injuries.

It will also significantly reduce the risk of injuries resulting from high-impact, such as knee, hip and back injuries, often associated with running.  Cross-training can also be like a breath of fresh air to banish the boredom of doing the same old exercises month-in month-out.  As they say, a change can be as good as a rest!  Unfortunately many runners don’t discover cross-training until it is too late and they have been forced to do so by injury.

Cross-train smart and you will reap the rewards:

Of course not all cross-training activities are of equal value to runners.  But, if you choose your cross-training activities wisely so that they complement your running and improve your aerobic fitness, you may be astonished by the results.

Cycling – Get on your bike or sign up for a spin class.  Cycling is low impact and will strengthen the quads and calves, as well as being kind to the joint surfaces of the ankles, knees and hips. Try standing for periods whilst pedalling to mimic the muscle work of running.  Spinning at high cadence (over 90 revolutions per minute) will also help with leg turnover and pace.  It may be worth wearing a heart monitor during spin sessions so that you can try to match your intensity on the bike with your usual effort level during a similar running session – ie during interval or track training.  A challenging cycle or spin class will also provide an excellent aerobic workout.

Stair climbing – Whether opting for the stairs at work or using a stepper machine at the gym, you can get a rewarding workout for the quads and hip flexors. Many runners tend to have over-active hamstrings.  By targeting the quads, stair climbing will help achieve greater balance between the two muscle groups.

Elliptical Trainer or Cross Trainer – probably one of the best cardio machines in the gym, the Cross Trainer allows you to mimic running without the impact. This type of training will strengthen your core and leg muscles and will also strengthen your arm swing to make you a more efficient runner.

Weights  – Recent sports science studies show that weightlifting can help improve endurance and running performance.  Runners should incorporate strength-building exercises into their cross training to include: squats (either free squats or with bar bell), 2-arm planks, bench presses and lunges holding weights. Endurance muscle training will help prevent against injury.

Swimming – Take to the pool to target all major muscle groups.  Non-weight bearing, swimming is an ideal cross training activity to give your joints a rest whilst strengthening the often-neglected upper body musculature.

Aqua jogging – Many elite runners are also massive fans of aqua jogging.  Wearing an aqua jogging flotation belt with your feet suspended from the pool bottom, you can achieve the same intensity as you would completing   a track session at maximum aerobic effort or a long run, just without the impact.  Some local leisure centres offer aqua jogging sessions in their diving pools and group aqua jogging classes.

Cross-train for the long run:

Running at too high an intensity for too long will result in injury.  Try taking a longer view when planning your training regime for 2014 and include a variety of cross-training options to complement your running and improve your performance.   We recommend cross-training no less than twice weekly as part of the ideal regime.

Happy training and a Happy Pain-free New Year from the team at Apex Clinic!