Benefits of cross training-UGH!
I know that strength training combined with running is an important factor in avoiding injury, building lean muscle, and preventing bone loss, but if given the choice between finding time to strength train or run, I always choose the run as I feel it gives me the biggest bang for my buck…so to speak. However, I am reminded once a year, after the gradual accumulation of my winter coat (that layer of adipose tissue that develops from hibernation during the cooler months here in SoCal) that strength training combined with running is the most effective way to lose that coat, FAST!
So the regimen has begun! Running happens four days a week and a boot camp style workout the other two (every girl has to take a day off sometime!). Today was a run, yesterday was a boot camp. Today’s run felt like moving through quicksand. My legs were heavy, my arms hurt, I had no spring in my step, and my mile time was 30 seconds slower than I am used to. UGH! Why do I stop cross training in the first place?? Even a modified version is better than none! And yet, I do this every year…muster up enough energy to keep running through the winter, get lazy around the end of January, start running in earnest around Easter time, feel great because I am running again, and then start strength training and my running suffers for weeks until my muscles catch up.
To what end? A springier step, lighter legs, quicker arms, and faster mile times. It happens every year. This time, my hope is to continue to cross train throughout the year; not to lose the winter coat, but to prevent ever layering it on in the first place.
How to get started strength training: Before a run, dynamic stretches like controlled arm swings, slow jumping jacks, pushups and crunches. These get blood flowing and give your body a chance to warm up. On non run days (they have to exist in order to cross train) a vinyasa style yoga as seen with Baron Baptiste, or a boot camp style circuit workout will work wonders but be prepared to have sore muscles in the legs and core. Running uses leg muscles and relies on a strong core, but you will quickly discover the one’s least used when you do lunges, or squats, or warrior 1 and 2 .
In a few weeks I will be back to my old running self with significant improvements. I hope you venture with me. We will be stronger for it!!