You register for a race and you think, “Great! I’ll start running tomorrow.” Perhaps you even download a couch-to-5k running plan from online. While that may sound like a sure fire way to get you to the finish line on race day, it won’t get you there in the best shape possible. That may not work, but cross-training will!
As we continuously do the same thing, like running or even weight training or dancing, our bodies get used to moving in a similar fashion. It gets used to the “load” (amount of work) you are placing on your body and becomes more and more efficient at doing this. If we talk running, it may get easier and easier for you the more you run, but your body starts using less calories and working less as you progress. That’s not ideal!
What is ideal?
Keep training and running – that’s your bread and butter. However, you will find your body performs optimally when you add in some weight training and different types of cardio.
How do I do this?
- Don’t run every day! Your body needs a rest. Design a plan for yourself to do straight running about 2-3 days per week.
- Add in at least 2-3 days of weight training. Train different muscle groups on these days and space them out. If you are doing 2 days, perhaps on a Monday and a Thursday, you could do upper body on the Monday and lower body on the Thursday. If you are doing 3 days of weight training, you could break it up even more.
- Add in 1-2 days of cardio other than straight running. If running is all you want to do, do some sprint or hill training – just make sure they are intervals. Go take a dance class, a kickboxing class or even a fast-paced yoga or Pilates class.
- Include at least 1, if not 2 days of complete rests from all activities. You earned your chance to be a couch potato for a day or two!
Remember to have fun with it!