Cross-training, sometimes referred to as circuit training, refers to combining exercises of other disciplines, different than that of the athlete in training. In reference to running, cross-training is when a runner trains by doing another kind of fitness workout such as cycling, swimming, a fitness class or strength training, to supplement their running. It builds strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn’t utilize. It prevents injury by correcting muscular imbalances. And the variety prevents boredom and burnout.
Benefits of Cross-Training
Alternative forms of exercise have definite benefits: improved your fitness, injury prevention and rehabilitation, quicker recovery, and boredom busters.
Four keys to cross-training for runners:
- Choose workouts that are closest to running in terms of muscles used and aerobic systems taxed. Good options include elliptical trainers, cross-country ski machines, stationary bikes, and water running.
- When cross-training, keep your heart rate at or above 70 percent of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age) most of the time. In other words, you should be working hard and sweating a lot.
- Check your morning heart rate regularly. An elevated morning heart rate is a sign of overtraining, which can occur if you add too much cross-training too soon.
- Combine cross-training with running to maximize running fitness with lower actual mileage. You can substitute 25 to 30 percent of your weekly “mileage” with cross-training.