Dorothy Beal: Don’t Ignore Cross-Training

Dorothy Beal has stayed injury-free throughout her running career that includes 27 marathons. Photo: Dorothy Beal

Cross-training, just like nutrition, is an important aspect of running that shouldn’t be ignored. You can’t just put in miles, eat junk and not take care of your body and expect to get out of running what you want.

Simply put, the human body is a machine. Ignore one part of the machine and another part suffers. Running is great for certain muscles, but it’s important to also work those often ignored or lightly used muscles that you don’t use as much during training and racing. This improves your running as well as your overall quality of life. When you feel good inside and out you perform better—and isn’t that what most runners are looking to do?

Over the past 11 years and countless different types of workouts, I’ve settled on a few that REALLY work for me and help keep me feeling strong and healthy. Knock on wood, I can thankfully say that in all my years of running, including many years of multiple marathons per year, I have never had an injury!

As a mom of three kids 7 and under, I have to keep my workouts and my schedule flexible. It seems just when I settle into a new routine, something changes and I have to find another way to fit it all in. During weeks I have more time than others I take Pilates classes (Note: I bought a Pilates circle to use at home and LOVE it), or spin at my local LA Fitness. When I’m pressed for time, I do RKS Kettlebell workouts or Jillian Michaels DVDs at home. The DVDs pack a punch in a short period of time and there is no travel time to and from the gym. You can find a good selection of Jillian Michaels DVDs, including 30 Day Shred, Yoga Meltdown, Buns & Thighs and 6 Pack Abs, at your local Target

If you are the type that would prefer to read about ways to incorporate strength into your running routine at home, I recommend these two books: The Official Rock ‘n’ Roll Guide To Marathon & Half Marathon Training and Quick Strength For Runners.

My favorite tools for helping keep my muscles happy enough to want to cross-train and also keep up with marathon training are Rumble Roller and Roll Recovery.

Remember that running isn’t just about the miles, it’s a comprehensive package that keeps you happy, healthy and injury free! I’ve found that adding in strength and other forms of exercise has also helped keep my love of running, particularly marathons, strong. Twenty-seven marathons feels like the beginning of my running journey—not the middle or the end!

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.

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