After big running races like the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, many runners either ease off the training for a while, while others are bitten by the running bug because of the atmosphere the event presents and suddenly become very keen to take part next year. Although most of those running a big marathon like this one takes it very seriously, many runners feel they have plenty of time to train but end up leave training too late and don’t spend enough time on the road.
Cross-training has fast become a popular way for many fitness lovers and athletes to enhance their training. For many runners specifically, cross-training is a great way to push them further and faster and to avoid injuries so close to the race. Cross-training often helps build other aspects of fitness that isn’t always focused on during running – including core, strength, resistance, stretching and low impact endurance. “One of the benefits that multi-sport athletes have over runners is that they are able to perform swim and cycling workouts in between run workouts,” explains Matt Russ, a US triathlon, cycling and road running coach. “This helps reduce the stress caused by the pounding of running, but the athlete still receives the aerobic benefit of training.”
Cross-training can take the place in the form of EMS strength training like BODYTEC and spin classes, swimming, hill walking, or a static bike, and all depends on your goals, time availability, and interests.
There are a host of benefits to cross-training as a runner:
Less risk of injury
Inadequate strength from a lack of training can cause instability in the hips, knees and ankles of runners, which can then lead to painful injuries. This can be corrected by adding cross training to your regular running routine. The addition of a lower-impact exercise takes some of the pressure off of weaker muscles whilst strengthening them at the same time.
Low-impact, big results
Cross training is an excellent way to get your heart and lungs pumping without actually being on the road and putting pressure on already heavily stressed muscles or injuries. It also helps to engage and build muscle groups that are typically not utilised that much, if at all, during running. Swimming, in particular, provides a decent amount of resistance without any damaging impact on joints and muscles.
For those who have sustained an injury in the months leading up to a marathon or big race, cross-training can help keep your fitness and strength up without aggravating the injury, and, aid the recovery process. Cross-training also helps correct any root problems allowing you to minimise the chance of a reoccurring injury. Because there is no strain on your joints as you don’t use any weights during your workout, EMS is used by physiotherapists to rehabilitate, maintain and improve fitness and strength levels while you heal. It’s an ideal solution for those with joint problems or back pain.
One sign of a good runner is flexibility. This means having the ability to run with minimal internal resistance from muscles and joints; thus allowing you to better the efficiency of your stride. Minimal internal resistance also means you reduce your risk of injury as your muscles and joints can withstand more by performing more efficiently.
Muscle and joint strength
Cross-training exercises like weight lifting and EMS training can help your running in more ways than you realise. Weight lifting builds stronger muscles and ligaments which are less susceptible to pulls, tears and other injuries. General strength training also enhances bone density and strength, lowering the chances of osteoporosis.
The constant pounding of running can often place a lot of pressure on muscles, joints and ligaments, with many runners only managing about 15 hours of running per week. Adding cross-training like a weekly 20-minute EMS session can add variation to your exercise program, as well as preventing injuries, and strengthen your fitness levels and muscles.
BODYTEC Lynnwood studio owner, Merle Rautenbach, credits EMS training for her improved strength, enabling her to improve on her running times. “I don’t have a lot of time to spend on strength training because of all the cardio requirements and a hectic schedule – so a 20-minute BODYTEC session fits perfectly into my weekly training regime,” she says. EMS training, like BODYTEC, is a workout that places no strain on joints and features an Electro Muscle Stimulation training device in combination with typical functional training. BODYTEC is South Africa’s leading EMS training franchise with 40 studios nationwide.