BUILDING COMPLEMENTARY STRENGTH. I was overjoyed to find this article, “Smart Marathon Training: Which Kinds of Cross-Training Are Best For Runners?” by Jeff Horowitz for Competitor.com, published January 17, 2014. Horowitz gives advice, likely an excerpt from his book Smart Marathon Training (by Jeff Horowitz, published 2011, Velopress, Boulder CO) that he refers to but does not identify, as to how runners should choose a cross-training activity.
Horowitz suggests this mode should be a) aerobic to improve endurance, b) low or non-impact to save your legs for running, c) complementary to running so as to work muscle groups not strengthened by running.
He indicates that the gluteus maximus, calves, and hamstrings should be “already strong from running” and that to become a “more balanced, injury-resistant athlete” runners should choose a cross-training method that builds strength in other muscles, like the quadriceps, gluteus medius, and “outer hip” muscles.
Of the four most popular cross training modes that are aerobic and low-to-non-impact, cycling, swimming, elliptical exercise, and stepping, he says, only CYCLING effectively works muscles groups that are complementary to running.
Horowitz provides other reasons cycling is such a great activity: allows outdoor time, can be enjoyed over duration of hours to days, permits exploration and sight-seeing, and easily attracts friends. In terms of fun and sociability, cycling seems to have an advantage over running. It’s “reach” extends farther in terms of the duration and distance over which the physical exercise can be performed (for most non-ultra runners), the activity preference of participants (some friends don’t like running but love biking) and the variety of events that can be arranged (short out-and-back, day trip, weekend excursion, full vacation expedition).
The Earned Runs 2016 summer RUN-WALK ACROSS AMERICA virtual activity challenge was adapted from a 45-day cycling tour that would have taken many months to run by individuals, who would need to be extremely fit. Forest Gump accomplished several cross-USA runs, but not many others would be capable of, or have the time and resources to spend on such a journey.
Guidelines for how to cross train with swimming (spend half as much time in pool as you would spend cycling according to prescription in his book) and the elliptical and stepper (75% as much time as cycling) are given but the book itself is not specifically referenced.
Whether or not you consider cycling to be the best cross training mode for you, there are other factors mentioned in Horowitz’s article, it’s helpful to know that this form of exercise could be useful to training when other activities are not available.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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