Cross-training is a great way for runners to supplement their running training with other activities or workouts that will improve their running or help with recovery from injuries. The benefits of cross-training include:
It helps strengthen your non-running muscles and rests your running muscles, while also building upper body strength, which will help you when running up hills.
It improves your cardiovascular fitness.
You’ll avoid getting bored with running by adding variety to your training.
It reduces your chance of injury by balancing your weaker muscles with your stronger ones, reducing stress on your joints and strengthening the soft connective tissue between muscle groups.
It can help injured runners maintain fitness and deal better with the frustration of being sidelined from running.
So, we popped into Sportsmans Warehouse and found these great cross-training gear choices.
Water running is a great alternative for injured runners or as a substitute for an easy running day, because there is no shock from foot-strike and added resistance from the water. Just remember that the correct technique is to pump your legs up and down, not windmill them like a cycling action.
Speedo Future Biofuse Swimming goggles
Swimming really works your upper body while giving your leg muscles and joints a breather, builds strength and endurance, and improves flexibility. Swimming goggles are a must-have, like these quick-adjustable, anti-fog, wide panoramic Speedo goggles.
L.A. Sports Inline Skates
Inline skating is another no-impact sport – provided you don’t fall – and it’s a great activity if you’re recovering from shin splints, Achilles tendonitis or knee injuries. You’ll really work your quadriceps, buttocks and lower-back muscles. These skates feature a padded mesh lining that is both comfortable and well ventilated.
Carnegie Fitness Body Balance
Runners need strong healthy ankles and a good sense of balance, especially if they intend heading off-road. A foam balance block allows you to do balancing exercises as well as work on your core stabilising muscles both in rehab after an injury and for general strengthening.
Body Sculpture Exercise Mat
Get yourself a mat for some yoga or Pilates training. Yoga uses your own body weight as resistance and improves flexibility, and Pilates strengthens the diaphragm, stretches tight muscles and improves posture – all of which helps you run longer with less effort.
Body Sculpture 20kg Dumbbell set
Strength training allows runners to improve the strength in their running muscles, create balance between unbalanced muscle groups, and focus on keeping their legs strong during injury recovery. Dumbbells allow you to work specifically on your arms, but also on legs and the rest of the upper body – and these great dumbbells can be adjusted with different combinations of weights. R499.95
Body Sculpture Exercise ball
You can cross-train even while sitting at your desk if you replace your chair with an exercise ball, because you’ll be using your core stabilising muscles to sit upright, still and balanced – and these same muscles will then help you run more efficiently.
Body Sculpture Pilates Band
With comfortable handgrips and easy to use instructions printed on the band, you can’t go wrong with this exercise band. Tone, firm and shape your stomach, buttocks, hips, thighs, arms and back while giving yourself a whole-body cross-training workout.
We’ve looked at a few smaller, over-the-counter cross-training items here, but you also have some bigger options, either to buy for your home or use at your local gym:
Spinning bike: Spinning exercises running-related muscle groups such as the quadriceps and shins, strengthens the connective tissue of the knee, hip, and ankle regions, and provides a great cardiovascular workout.
Elliptical trainer: These machines provide a great total body cardiovascular workout, especially if you use the handles as well, and going both forwards and backwards works all the major muscles in your legs.
Rowing machine: An excellent cardiovascular, low-impact activity, rowing strengthens the quads, hips, buttocks and upper body, while sparing the legs from heavy pounding.