Amanda Brooks: Cross-Training For Marathons

Cycling is a great form of cross-training, writes Amanda Brooks. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Five years ago, cross training was a foreign word to this runner.

I was a runner because that’s what I loved doing and everything else felt like a gigantic waste of time in terms of fitness. In fact, an interview I did with Ryan Hall who swore he never cross-trained only served to make me feel like I was justified in my logic.

Biking, hiking or paddle boarding were a ton of fun and how we often spent the weekend, but I never considered them a means to improve my running.

Then this crazy thing happened and I started to get older, my body changed, my life changed and my results with only running started to diminish. Not to mention that I started to get injured from having imbalances in my muscles.

Cross-Training Tips

Here are some of the keys I have found to make cross training more enjoyable and ensure it benefits my running!

Yoga: Try a Vinyasa style class where the continual movement helps runners keep from feeling bored when initially transitioning to this slower workout style. Additionally, the focus on breathing can help you expand your lung capacity and keep you from feeling winded on runs.

Biking: Focusing on a cadence of 90 RPM will help you become a better runner by increasing your foot turnover. 90 RPM mimics the desired 180 steps per minute recommended by most running coaches.

PT: Most runners think of physical therapy exercises as a way to recover from injury, but I have found that by adding many of them to my routine I can stay out of the doctor’s office! Here are some of my favorite moves for the IT Band and hips:

Lunge Matrix for IT Band
Runner’s knee exercises
Hip stability
Hip-opening stretches

Swimming: This is another fantastic way to improve lung capacity and create core stability, which will help you run longer with better form.

Depending upon my current goals, the number of days I cross-train varies, but I like to do a full body strength training session three times a week in the beginning of a program and then reduce that as intensity increases. All other cross-training activities are added in a few times a week, also depending on program intensity.

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

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