If I could just run seven days a week and avoid injury, I’d be one happy runner. Unfortunately, that’s not often the case. I’ve been lucky enough to deal with relatively minor overuse injuries in the past. And when injury does happen, you can almost always spot the lapses in my training log. After consistently skipping (or honestly, forgetting) about cross-training and strength-training, I start to break down. I think that in order to become a faster runner, you have to strengthen your whole body.
It can be really tough to fit cross-training in to a consistent running schedule. As runners, we naturally think that we’re wasting time by doing anything other than running. I try to sprinkle cross-training into my schedule throughout the week so that it’s not overwhelming and it doesn’t take up a lot of time. The more I run, the more I begin to realize when my body needs a break and when it’s appropriate to jump on a spin bike rather than go out for an easy run. My favorite ways to cross-train are spinning or yoga class.
I have a simple core routine that I do three times a week after my run. It takes 10-15 minutes (I can justify 10 minutes if I feel stronger because of it!). It’s very simple:
1. Slow bicycle
2. Standard plank
3. Single leg bridge
4. Side plank (both sides)
5. Bird dogs
6. Leg lifts
7. Locust pose
8. Rotating plank
I do each one of these exercises for 1-2 minutes each with a 15-20 second recovery before moving on to the next. Sometimes I do the routine twice with each exercise for 1 minute. Other days, I like to challenge myself and extend the duration of each exercise.
I also schedule at least one strength routine at the gym per week, usually following a tough workout (so that easy days can be easy!). I focus on hip and glute strength in order to prevent injury. Some of the exercises in my strength routine include: clamshells, lateral leg lifts, bridges, lateral walk with resistance band, single leg dead lifts, bosu ball squats, inchworms, bench steps, pistol squats, and kettle bell swings. My hip/glute strength routine takes me about 30-45 minutes. I notice that when I commit to doing this routine 1-2 times a week, I feel more balanced and consistent in my workouts.
A Typical Week
Monday: Easy run + Core Routine
Tuesday: Speed Workout + Hip/Glute Routine
Wednesday: Easy run or Cross-train
Thursday: Tempo Workout + Core Routine
Friday: Easy run or Cross-train
Saturday: Long Run
Sunday: Recovery run + Core Routine
Fitting cross-training and strength training into your routine can be tough, but if you sprinkle it throughout your week it can be much more manageable. Besides, most core and simple strength exercises can be done while watching TV at home in the evening. I’d rather commit to around 15 minutes a day than be sidelined for a few months.
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