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What activities are considered acceptable for crosstraining while doing a running program? I really enjoy spin class (cycling indoors) every once in awhile, but I don't want to overexert any muscle groups used while running because that is my primary focus. I figure yoga is ok to do, and swimming, but I'm a total newbie when it comes to exercise and muscle groups.
I'm reading "Run Less, Run Faster," which is the guide to the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) series of training programs for runners. There's a section on cross training, and here's a general synopsis.
Good cross training activities will provide good cardiovascular benefits without stressing the running musculature or your lower legs.
Swimming, rowing, and biking are all good modes of cross training.
Cycling will help develop your quadriceps, which can balance the hamstring and calf strengthening you get from running. It's also good for hip/joint flexibility, and doing intervals on the bike can help with leg turnover leading to faster running. You need to be careful to make sure the bike/stationary bike you use is set up properly.
Swimming stretches the hamstrings and increases ankle flexibility, which could improve running performance. It also lets you stay active while letting muscles recover from hard runs. Good technique is key.
Rowing is just a generally good, non-weight-bearing workout.
FIRST doesn't recommend ellipticals with its workouts, since it's simulating the running motion without the impact. That means you're not really giving your running muscles a rest. Same goes for stairclimbers.
FIRST also doesn't consider weight training to be cross training.
I need to look into cross training alternatives myself, but that's a start.
2012 Race Schedule
Providence Marathon (4:48:55)
Buffalo Half-Marathon (2:03:16)
Chicago Marathon (October 7)
Jennifer, I know you've seen this but since this was cross-posted, I'm answering here too:
The answer really depends on what you're goals are. What I mean is, if you want to run races, then you may choose cross-training that uses similar muscles... I don't see that as a bad thing, in part because I'm not going as hard as I do when I run. This still allows recovery. Cycling uses muscles in a somewhat different way and IMPORTANTLY to me, does not cause the same pounding that running does. Cycling is one of my chosen cross-training activities (for me it's because it strengthens tendons without the same explosive impact that running has). I also like Yoga, which also exercises my legs (and strengthen's upper body without bulking it up too much). If your goals do not include racing, then cross-training could be anything, such as swimming, which builds more upper body strength. Because I do have racing goals, I will swim, but it will not be a focus of mine... I will even periodically weight train, but higher reps and it will not be a solid focus... I'll do more yoga and bicycling.
I think that the main idea is to keep working on the cardio but give your legs a break (either by biking and reducing pounding or just not using them). My favorite upper body activity is kayaking. Although it does involve some $$$ to get started, it beats the heck out of a gym membership for me! It's a great workout for the abs/trunk/arms and actually you use your legs more than you think to stabilize. I really like to be outside in the world and find it torture to be on any kind of machine. I will use my treadmill when the weather's uncooperative but I'd much rather be outside running, hiking, or kayaking Now that the weather is getting nice, I am having a very difficult time wanting to actually do my job. Any suggestions for that?
oh oh oh...I just read an article about cross-training for runners on a women's running site www.traxee.com....I do bicycling...because I love it, its relaxing, and beneficial. Best Wishes+