By Lisa Landrum, runCLTrun
Running is, in my opinion, by far the easiest training — as I’ve mentioned a few times before, all you really have to do is step out your front door and GO. That’s part of the reason we all love it so much. Running can be repetitive, though, and if you do it every day, you may need to add some variety to your exercise schedule. It’s also a good idea to change up your activity so that you use different muscles and avoid those common overuse injuries we talked about last month.
A good cross-training schedule involves exercise that actually complements running and can even make you even stronger runner. You should also enjoy it – this isn’t a punishment!
We’re lucky to have so many resources in our area. It can be a bit overwhelming to choose what to do, though. SweatNET, a fitness resource that has a membership component, is great for trying out new activities and studios/facilities without a huge obligation. The YMCA is also a phenomenal resource for us here.
As for the activities, here are a few options:
Don’t roll your eyes or discount this one right away. It’s not just for 85-year-olds or injured runners. Aqua jogging is a really great way to give your legs a break and it will actually help improve your running on land. Because you can focus on your form, it can make you more efficient as a runner when you do lace ‘em up.
A few tips:
Get the belt. If you’re doing this at the YMCA, they have floatation belts that make this activity doable; use them. If you’re doing this someplace else, go ahead and purchase the belt, trust me on that, it makes this achievable.
Focus on your form. You may think you’re going to die of boredom while running in place in a pool, but if you can set your focus on really moving your legs through the correct running motion, that will keep you engaged. The resistance of the water will help your running muscles work during the full cycle of motion, which translates to stronger strides on land.
Mix it up: try doing a workout instead of just doing the same thing for 30+ minutes. Your mind will thank you. You can use the clock and your perceived rate of effort to keep it simple. Try something like a 5 minute warm-up at an easy “jog” followed by 3 minutes at an effort of 8 out of 10, 2 minutes at an effort of 5 out of 10, and repeat as long as you want.
If you have a bike, use it! It’s always easiest to hop on and go from your house– again, that’s the reason we love running so much. Convenience is key.
If you don’t have a bike or aren’t comfortable riding on the road, a cycle class or just doing your own thing on a spin bike is another option. The cardio workout cycling can provide is definitely transferable to your running performance. It can also help your muscles recover by promoting blood circulation while doing a non-impact activity.
There are some studios in Charlotte that have classes (FlyWheel is one of them– one of the SweatNET partners– so is CycleBar and YMCA). You can also do a workout on your own on a spin bike at the gym, and hello, Peloton! For a simple workout on your own, hop on a spin bike, put in earphones with some music and pedal at easy intensity (how difficult it is to pedal) and cadence (how fast your legs go around on those pedals) during the slow parts and make it more difficult during the fast parts of a song. This doesn’t have to be rocket science.
This is always a welcome cross-train day in my book. Not only does yoga force me to be in the moment because I’ve got to really focus on not falling, but it also helps me stretch and use muscles in a different way. There are tons of options for yoga sessions in Charlotte, and again, SweatNET partners with a lot of them.
Finally, if all else fails and you haven’t looked at class schedules, don’t have time to go to a gym, don’t want to pull that bike out of the garage, but just feel like you want a break for running, head out the door and walk. Do it with purpose and get your heart rate up, maybe pick a hilly route and pump those arms, and walking can be an effective cross-train day.