Lynn’s Cross Training Q& A
Coach Lynn’s thoughts on Cross Training:
I've had every injury in the book throughout my career as an Olympic Runner and seen every injury in my world as a coach of athletes of all ability levels. These days I personally stay healthy and enjoy running a couple days a week, while incorporating Cross Training on other days. I share my experiences with you as your SportMed RunWalk Coach so that you will have your best possible experience as you work through the InTraining program.
The goal is to stay healthy… and that means “listening to your body”. If little aches and pains are not subsiding, then it means you are likely doing too much for yourself and need to either slow down and/or do less of what is causing the discomfort. Better to take a few days or even a week of cross training than to push through a discomfort such that it becomes a more serious injury requiring weeks or months away from the impact of running or walking.
So what exactly is Cross-Training?
It means incorporating a variety of activities into your training program, and becoming stronger and fitter as a result of utilizing your body in different ways. An added bonus to cross-training is you'll find you stay motivated and avoid the burn-out that can occur by staying with only one form of exercise… in this case running and/or walking.
The RunWalk program says I need to run or walk 3 times a week…
This is true, but if you are developing aches and pains that are not diminishing as you adjust to the program, then it would be helpful to consider cross training options to keep you fit and help you recover from the impact of running and walking.
OK – What should I do for Cross Training to help me through my RunWalk Program?
With respect to running and walking, it's best to choose those activities that most effectively replicate what you do when you run or walk. That means ideally you choose aerobic activities that require you to move continuously for a given amount of time. Begin with 15-20 minutes of the suggested forms of cross-training activities below, and depending on your comfort and fitness level, utilize intervals like those suggested in your RunWalk program to give you focus, pass the time and help maintain your RunWalk fitness. For example, if you were to do change-of-pace intervals of 2 minutes brisk followed by 2 minutes of recovery, then you would do exactly those intervals in your cross-training, including the warm-up and cool-down. Remember all the same principles apply: “Brisk” means just slightly faster than your talking pace, and the rest is done at a nice easy talking pace just like in your RunWalk program.
*Another option is to use your favourite music playlist and alternate one song faster/one song slower.
Cross Country Skiing and/or Snowshoeing: For obvious reasons these are fantastic options for maintaining RunWalk Fitness. Out in the fresh air, utilizing those poles and skis in a beautiful range of motion there is very little impact to the body and an incredible aerobic component. So for a nice change and break from the impact, take your training outside in the mountains around our beautiful province and try your RunWalk session on skiis or snowshoes.
Deep Water Running: Staying afloat ie. Treading water in the deep end of a pool by utilizing a RunWalk action. Picture yourself running or walking on land, and replicate that as best you can in the water. It helps to imagine stepping up and over a barrel in front of you so that you have a larger range of motion like you have in a full RunWalk stride. Moving the water with every step and arm action becomes a fantastic RunWalk-specific weight training workout without any impact. An added bonus is that simultaneously the water acts as a body massage – you cannot hurt yourself. Most pools now have flotation belts, vests or even those crazy noodles kids play with to help keep you above water, depending on your own comfort level. You won't be able to use your Ipod, but most facilities have music piped into their speakers to help with alternating fast/slow intervals. Better yet, you can get together with a friend and simply “go for a run” in the deep end of a pool – you can chat and you don't even have to get your hair wet!
Elliptical Trainer: These low-impact exercise machines engage your whole body, utilizing an elliptical RunWalk step pattern on the peddles. You'll engage your core and upper body by holding onto handle bars that allow you to alternate a back-and-forth arm action not unlike when you run or walk. As with spinning on a bike, it's important not to struggle with the resistance nor move too quickly for yourself. Keep your tempo similar to what it would be if you imagine yourself running or walking on land.
StreetStriding: This new relatively unknown machine takes the elliptical trainer outside on 3 wheels so that you are literally “running on wheels”. It's a fantastic option for those that prefer not to be inside a gym (and it's good to know you can pop the StreetStrider on a wind trainer for those days when the weather is not cooperating).
Treadmill Trainer: Sometimes it's good to take your RunWalk inside, depending especially on the weather. The impact is different and be wary of any lower back aches and pains because of the bounce-back that occurs with every step. I'm always asked why the pace seems easier on the treadmill than out on the roads; That's because the machine is setting the pace for you, so if possible, raise the ramp to a 1% grade to best replicate the effort it would take with your own propulsion outside.
Spin Cycling: Continuously moving on a stationary bike, this is probably still the most popular machine at the gym. For RunWalk specificity, keep your resistance low and your repetitions high. Adjust that resistance so you are ideally able to maintain about 80 reps per minute or higher depending on your fitness level. Increase the resistance and rpm's when you are doing a brisk interval.
Yoga for Runners: Always great for flexibility, strength, core, and focus but there is very little aerobic component. This is not in lieu of your RunWalk program but is a great supplement to your RunWalk program and my personal favourite.
Wishing you good health, fun and fitness with your RunWalk experience!
SportMed’s resident Olympic Medalist and your RunWalk Coach