Want a simple way to prevent injuries, enhance your motivation, and prevent burnout from running? Running can be hard on the body because of the impact forces that it generates. But it’s not just the pounding that’s responsible for the soreness we feel after a hard workout or race. So how can we still run and stay in cardiovascular shape? Simple, cross-train.
Cross-training allows you to get in some cardio workouts without putting a lot of wear and tear on our bodies. Any exercise that causes an adaptation response for your heart and cardiovascular system, will prepare you for a road or trail race. Most cross-training options avoid the impact forces involved with running and leave you less sore and tired the following day. So here are some benefits to taking a break from running and how it can benefit your body.
Cross training in any sport is essential. Some athletes train all year round and cross training decreases the risk of overuse injuries. The simple process of changing the type of training changes the stress on the body. For those who have a long running season, there still is a way to reduce or eliminate overuse injuries simply by incorporating different activities during your training season. The same muscles used in running still might be getting worked at a high intensity but used in a different angle but due to the change of activity, the muscle can recover from the wear and tear over the season. The body can adapt to different stimuli by incorporating a different activity outside of running almost forcing the body to rest.
Do you have a muscle imbalance? Do you not take enough time off of running in between runs? Cross-training assists to achieve balance of strength and flexibility on both sides of the body as well as stabilizing muscles. It can also prevent muscle pulls and tears caused by one muscle placing more force on a particular muscle group.
There are two types of active recovery; a cool-down phase immediately after a hard effort, or a workout or in the form of a less intensive workout on your “off” days. A cool-down can be something as simple as a 5 minute walk/run after a 30 minute interval running session. Your day off from running can consist of a workout that is less intensive or less volume. One positive of active recovery is that you get to focus on improving your form and/or technique. This is a great time to focus on muscular conditioning which can not only improve your running technique but provide your body with overall strength. Yoga or a stretch class are good examples of active recovery especially after a long run or high intense race.
Don’t confuse the term ‘active recovery’ with a day off completely from working out as they are not the same. Active recovery or easy workouts really don’t help with recovery but rather it’s a way to get in some training, burn some calories without adding stress while recovering from the previous day’s high intense workout. Your key workouts in running which are your high-intensity workouts and your long runs are the most important to your running performance. What do you after or in between is just as important.
Regardless of what sport you are in, it can become a little repetitious if you do it day in and day out. Can you imagine running the same route and distance every single day for the entire year? I think for most runners, it would become boring. Variety is the spice of life so by incorporating some cross-training into your routine such as spinning, swimming, rowing, elliptical, or even a fitness class, it will help you keep your enthusiasm for running.
It’s not just about giving the body a break, but a mental absence from running can help you come back stronger the next year. If you are running long-distance, your absence phase from running is known as your transition phase of your training cycle. Take some time off completely from running and then ease back into your training routine for the following year. There are so many other activities that can keep you in cardiovascular shape and maintain your leg strength while taking time off.
This will be my last post for the Ready To Run Blog Series. I hope that you enjoyed all the tips. Even though I will be continuing my running throughout the winter, I have decided to end this blog series as my attention will be focusing more on nutrition. With that being said, I will have a downloadable document coming to you in January on my web site for those of you who want to continue with running over the winter. Stay tuned…………
Eat Clean & Live Green!
Your Compassionate Coach,