Running Tuesdays-Cross Training’s Many Benefits

by Lorraine Kennimouth-Williams

I was so against cross training, not because I thought it bad or harmful in anyway; I just felt if I was going to put the time and effort into training, why not invest it in running. Why do anything but run? I love to run! 

In 2014 I ran 5 marathons, each one of the first three becoming progressively faster. (The last two were “throw-aways”). I’ve asked myself lately what I was doing differently back then to achieve those faster times. The answer ….I was cross training! I was riding my road bike twice weekly, and it made quite a difference to my times. At the time I didn’t realize what a difference it was making. I was riding my bike because it was new and it was fun and it offered the excitement of a novelty; it was also partly guilt since it was not inexpensive! Fast forward to mid/late 2015 and I had not ridden my bike in over 12 months, using the extra time to run more miles and guess what? My times became slower! I could not manage to match or surpass my 2014 times. 

Cross training has many different benefits, and so people cross train for a number of different reasons. One of the most common reasons I see is injury prevention. When switching up a routine, one is invariably switching up the muscle groups used, therefore resting one set of muscles while strengthening others. This makes perfect sense. I have friends who state their reasons for cross training is to “mix it up.” They would go crazy otherwise with the boredom of doing the same thing over and over. My reason….. to become a faster, more efficient runner! That simple really. I want to be better! And that’s why I started to cross train again. Of course I don’t want to battle injuries either, but knowing that cross training can help prevent injuries is just an added bonus that comes with getting faster! I didn’t start to cross train due to boredom either because I was never bored; however, it does offer a nice change to running, and again it was an added bonus.

I started to get serious about cross training earlier this year when I began attending my local gym 3 to 4 times a week. I do isolation weight training along with core strengthening exercises, and it feels GOOD! I am clearly stronger. I look stronger, and I am running stronger. I finished the Detriot Marathon two weeks ago, 20 minutes faster than my previous marathon, just 5 minutes slower than my fastest marathon. So… I believe the cross training is paying off. I have plans to dust my road bike off too this weekend in an attempt to strengthen my hamstrings and extend my endurance with my goal being to run my fastest marathon ever in May 2017. Stay tuned ….

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