Cross training is critical for marathon runners

Running five days a week for 17 consecutive weeks to train for a marathon is intense. It’s a huge commitment; something very few people are willing to do. Marathon runners are a hearty breed of people. Their passion and determination to cross the finish line upright and smiling is incredible. Training for a marathon is […]

Health Running Brian Webb

This article was published on March 3rd, 2014

Marathon cross training tips by Brian Webb

Running five days a week for 17 consecutive weeks to train for a marathon is intense. It’s a huge commitment; something very few people are willing to do. Marathon runners are a hearty breed of people. Their passion and determination to cross the finish line upright and smiling is incredible. Training for a marathon is more than going out for those weekly runs, carb loading and mental preparation. Training and running the big race, injury free, is just as important as long distance runs, hill training and speed work.

Running is very repetitive. Although the types of runs vary throughout the week and the duration of the training schedule, the body needs to work different muscle groups, primarily for injury prevention.  Cross training includes weight lifting, stretching and other types of cardio activity.

Weight lifting is incredibly important. Runners need to work their arms, back, chest, shoulders and core at the gym. In fact, up to 20 percent of running can come from the upper and core areas of the body, propelling your up hills and in a forward motion. Strength training builds these valuable muscle groups and will help keep the body in good form.

Yoga is a fantastic option for runners. It elongates the muscles and puts them back into position. Zen and flow yoga are the two best types, and they can be done at a yoga studio, at the gym, or from the comfort of your own living room. Hot yoga is not recommended because it can hyper-extent the muscles, which can lead to running injuries.

Other forms of cardio will help build up cardiovascular strength. Swimming is the best option because it is the lowest impact and uses the entire body. Biking is a great option because it will help build lower body strength. The repetitive action of biking, like running, requires the muscles to fire at different times. Rowing is a good option to build upper body strength. Rowing can be done at the gym or in a canoe, kayak or other small boat. The elliptical, hiking, and roller blading are also other cardio activity options.

Incorporating cross training two or three days per week is ideal. Use rest days or replace lower-intensity running days to get in these valuable workouts. If you do get a lower body running injury, increase your cross training to focus on upper body and other low-impact cardio activities until you’re ready to get back to the pavement.

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