I am guilty of not doing enough cross training. It’s a common mistake made by most marathons runners, focusing on running in an attempt to improve speed. During peak marathon training I feel like I have no time to fit in cross training but I’ve come to learn I need to sacrifice running sessions in order fit this cross training in.
I learnt this the hard way. I had what I thought was shin splints in my recent training for Berlin. It was sore before and after a session, but not during, which made me think it wasn’t of huge concern. You get niggles that you can run through. Then you get niggles where you have to take a step back and listen to your body. It started getting progressively worse and I was lucky enough to get through my main marathon this year. After a MRI the diagnosis was that I had a ‘stress reaction’ within my Tibia which pretty much means no running for 5-6 weeks. I needed a mental and physical break so not the worse timing. Having said that, it’s tough not being able to go for those endorphin releasing runs. Nothing beats runner’s high.
I’ve found the following forms of cross training the most beneficial;
Spinning classes. Great to do interval training sessions on a bike. It works different muscles to road running. Picking up that heart rate without the heavy impact on your legs is another benefit.
Swimming. If I can do it, so can you. I’ve never been a great swimmer nor have I had a passion for it, but seeing how much this benefits my running it’s something I aim to do at least once a week. It’s a great way of doing a recovery session and shaking out the legs.
Cross Trainer. Allows you to build the muscles you would whilst running, except you avoid impact. Also great to grind out an interval session.
I wish cross training was something I incorporated into my running from when I first started. Having seen the benefits it’s definitely something I’ll be doing every week!