Column: Dan Donohue - Cross training
Over the last ten months or so, my love/hate relationship with running has taken a real upturn in the right direction. Upon signing up for an adventure marathon, it obviously becomes immediately apparent that you can’t cuff that kind of distance. Unless you want to break yourself! A well structured and well planned training programme was an absolute necessity to ensure I was ready for the day. Now, I say love/hate because it used to be exactly that. In a former life, I spent near enough eight years in the Royal Marines and long distance running was something that we prided ourselves on but it’s always been something that I’ve had to work massively hard at to get to a good level. To see some of my former oppo’s go on several weeks leave and smoke and drink their way through it, only to come back and smash a mile-and-a-half fitness test in record time was highly frustrating! Now, me and running are best buddies. Another thing that has become apparent to me is the benefits of cross-training and how it can be of great use to becoming a more rounded and better balanced runner and that’s the subject of this week’s column.
Cross training has long been a part of many an athlete's programme but as Lehman’s, we often tend to ignore this fact and concentrate on the one thing we do the most, in my case, running. Incorporating strength training, movement or flexibility work and/or other cross overs such as swimming, have huge upsides. Supplementing our running with cross training can help to decrease the risk of injury through accumulative fatigue, increase running strength and power whilst going some way to bettering the individuals running efficiency making the main component of your regime that little bit better and maybe even, that little bit easier.
Fitness can sometimes become a little laborious and maybe even a little bit boring. Once this happens, the next thing that will follow is your motivation and your willingness to get out and do what needs to be done in preparation for your next race or event. Trying something different to your usual routine that will benefit your running could well be a very good decision and will help to break down the repetitive nature of your weekly routine. Find something you enjoy that has rejuvenating qualities and you’ll reap the benefits.
Touch wood it’s yet to happen, but injuries can and do occur. However, the risk of this can be decreased from cross training. Running is a high-impact sport and none more so than through the ankle, knee and hip joints, along with connective tissue and muscle that support those joints. Endurance cross overs such as swimming and cycling will help to protect those vulnerable areas whilst also improving your overall endurance and this will work nicely alongside your regular weekly routine of running.