Cross training is included on many running training plans, but many beginning runners don’t know what it means or what they should do on those days.
Cross training day is the time to do something other than your sport to help prevent injury from repetitive stress and work on activities that help you do what you do better. For runners, strength training is a must. Strong and healthy muscles support the joints, give you more power, and help increase endurance. To make your next 5K a little faster or improve muscle endurance for your first half marathon, try these five strength training moves on your cross training days.
- Calf raises: I love to do calf raises off a step or stair to increase the range of motion. Raise up on toes then lower down past the edge of the step or stair. Raise back to start and repeat. Do this move slowly, counting 1, 2 down and 3, 4 up.
- Lateral lunges: Running is about moving forward, but you never know when you might need to make a quick move to the side to avoid an obstacle in the road. A balanced body can move in all planes of motion, not just forward and back. Start standing with feet together. Take a step to the side, bending the moving knee to push your hips back and down. Make sure to keep the weight in your heels, your knee behind your toes and the stationary leg straight. Push through your heel to return to the starting position. Switch sides and repeat.
- Row to Fly: Good posture is key to good running form. This exercise will help keep your shoulders and back tall and strong. Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand. Hinge forward at the hips, with a flat back and soft knees, looking down at the ground in front of you. Pull the dumbbells back, with elbows close to the body and going past your back, by squeezing the shoulder blades together. Straighten arms to return to the start position. Then raise arms to side with a slight bend in the elbows creating a T with the upper body. Return to start position and repeat.
- Walkout: This exercise works the core, arms and chest while giving your hamstrings a nice stretch. Start in a standing position. Reach down and forward to touch the ground in front of your toes, keeping your legs as straight as possible. Walk your hands forward until your body is straight and parallel to the ground in push up position (you can add a push upif you really want to challenge yourself). Return to start by walking your hands backward to your toes and standing up.
- Stability Bridge Hold: Isometric exercises are great way to work on core stability. This exercise really targets the deep muscles that support the spine. Start on the ground laying face up with both feet on top of a stability ball. Squeeze your glutes and lift your body off the ground, keeping your legs straight and feet on the ball. Hold for as long as you can, working up to one minute.
These moves make a great circuit that can be repeated 3-4 times, resting 1-2 minutes in between circuits, for 8-12 repetitions (except for your Stability Ball Bridge hold).