Cross Training Ideas for Runners and Walkers
I am often asked about cross training either to escape the wrath of winter weather or to change up my routine and focus on different muscle groups. Cross-training can be a lot of fun. It is full of variety, and will keep you working on fitness, and feeling good about yourself. It should be noted, however, that as great as cross-training may be, in order to prepare to walk or run a 10K, the body DOES have to get used to actually walking or running, and to simply “cross-train” one’s way to 10K will not work.
Below are some of my favorites for you to consider.
- Swimming. Do I have to put a bathing suit on? UGH! Swimming is an excellent form of cross-training but POOL RUNNING is by far the best form of cross-training if you would like to have the most effective transfer back to walking or running. Essentially the athlete utilizes a walking/running leg and arm action to stay afloat in the deep end of a pool. Pool running, if done properly, becomes a specific weight training workout for walking and running. With every “step” taken in the water, the water is the even steady weight that must be moved. Please visit the article bank for specific information about Pool running technique and how to adapt a training program.
- Stationary Biking. I DO enjoy my stationary bike…GREAT! “Spinning” (ie. High repetitions with low resistance, as in 70-100 repetitions per minute, depending on your fitness level) on a stationary bike, or a road bike for that matter, is an excellent form of cross-training. It will keep the cardiovascular fitness in sync with walking or running, and will build some good strength as well, although it’s not as specific as water running.
- Cross Country Skiing. There’s SNOW! Traditional cross-country skiing has a very strong transfer to walking and running without the impact on the body. The skis glide back and forth, there is no knee lift and therefore no weight impact due to gravity. This is argueably the very best form of cardiovascular fitness.
- Weight training. I am into "power lifting". Weight training in a gym is an excellent way to improve over-all body fitness and core strength, but it is better as a supplement to walking or running, as opposed to a substitute. To be most effective, seek advice from a gym professional, to ensure you do a balanced circuit of weight training exercises correctly. The weights should be light, with a high number of repetitions.Power-lifting, by contrast, involves heavy weights with a low number of repetitions. I would also suggest doing some cardio-work inbetween sets: ie. After a set of exercises, jump on a stationary bike and spin in a low gear for 10 minutes before beginning another set of exercises and so on.
- Classes are another motivating option, and if it keeps you off the couch, then
by all means do it. I often need a class or I won't do a thing!My only concern would be to ensure the class is not a high-impact style of activity, like aerobics or step-classes, as obviously that would defeat the purpose of staying off the legs. Encourage low-impact strength classes, like yoga or pilates.
In all of the above forms of cross-training, the easiest and most effective work-out is to simply duplicate the exact SportMed RunWalk session. For example, in the Walk10K Program, Session #1 in Week #2 indicates a “2 minute brisk walk followed by a 2 minute easy recovery walk”, and that is to be repeated 5 times. My advice is to either jump in the water and “water run” those intervals, or pop on to a bike and “spin” those intervals, or head up the mountain to the snow and “ski” those intervals, taking care to change the pace. The effort must be just as it would be on land. The “brisk” pace is slightly faster than a talking pace, and the “easy recovery” pace should be at a nice comfortable talking pace, just as it would be on land for a walking workout.
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