I came across this article today and it got me thinking…How exactly do other runners feel about cross-training? From reading the article and some of the commentary following, it seems as though cross-training is an afterthought for most runners. Is that really the case? If so…then why? What’s the harm in doing a little extra outside of your area of ‘expertise’?
I’m a believer in being well-rounded. Running is many things for me, and one of those things is a tool to stay fit. That said, I have always enjoyed other physical activities (like weight lifting and yoga), so when I can I throw those into the mix as well. I don’t think it’s necessarily good for the body to be proficient at only one thing. I don’t cross-train to be a better runner, I cross-train to be a healthier runner. Meaning, the strength training helps me feel stronger, more balanced in my core, and more apt to perform under high stress (like when lifting heavy weights). Yoga gives me the stretching, the calm, and the inward focus needed to assist me in runs as well. It all ties in in its own special way. A friend of mine who’s a personal trainer once told me that “being strong in one area only highlights the weakness lurking in other areas.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Cross-training isn’t so bad, it helps us to strengthen the areas we may not be paying attention to or even using as much when we run.
So why the big fuss? Why the big debate over whether cross-training helps runners do better or no? If you want to run faster, do drills and push harder. Want to run longer? Ok, learn to pace yourself so that you can endure. Nothing is going to make you a better runner save doing more running. No rocket science involved in that. But to be a stronger and healthier runner, a more well rounded runner, then try to do some things outside of hitting the road/track for a run. Use parts of your body that you don’t usually get to put to work on a run. Do a few push ups. Try a spin class. Go for a swim. Just get out there and allow yourself to push all parts of your body. Not just the one.