Is just running really the best training.
Its easy to get drawn in to just running for exercise – let’s face it we’re in a running club….but is running on its own a good idea – or is it better to ‘cross train’ (ie take part in a different type of exercise) alongside, or sometimes in place of a run?
Well lets see what evidence we can find….
According to Matt Fitzgerald, author of numerous running books, there are five reasons to consider adding some cross training to your regime.
- Fewer Injuries – adding strength training or low impact exercises such as swimming or cycling to your week can help stretch tight IT bands, and loosen tight connective tissues and therefore prevent injuries.
- Faster Rehabilitation – if you do get injured, maintaining fitness by means other than running, and also having a higher level of all around fitness can reduce the time injury takes to heal – and also means when you are ready to start running again you will be back to your best quicker.
- Greater Aerobic Fitness – due to the pounding running can inflict on the body, sometimes it feels as though you can only manage so many hours a week without getting sore or injured – by adding non-impact endurance sports you can train for extra hours each week – but also push your aerobic capacity without the strain on your joints
- More Power – a benefit of strength training, particularly jumping drills or plyometrics, is that when you come to that finishing line sprint you will have a different muscle group to call on to give that final blast to the finish line. In a recent Swedish study, trained runners replaced around 30% of their running hours with plyometrics for a period of nine weeks. After the nine weeks the sprint speed, running economy and 5K race times were all found to have improved – where as the control group who only ran showed no improvements.
- Greater Efficiency – ‘dynamic flexibility’ is the ability to perform sports movements (such as running) with minimal internal resistance from your muscles and joints. Dynamic stretches (for example walking lunges) are a great way to improve your dynamic flexibility, and as a by-product reduce the energy needed to run a certain pace for a certain distance – in essence you can run the same 5k or 10k time, but use less energy – so of course you can use the energy in reserve to push a little faster!
So there you have it – next time you are lacing up the running shoes, take a moment to think about is a run really what your body needs right now – or would something else actually be of benefit? (just not on a club night you understand!).
If you have any questions or would like to know more – either speak to myself, or the club captain / vice captain – or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org