I get asked a lot if I cross train and what my program consists of. For starters, when I first started running seriously I followed Hal Higdon's program and suggestions as bible. With that being said, as a new runner it isnt suggested you add much extras to your program if you are new to working out in general. Your body is taking on a lot by starting out a new program, so along with mighty Hal, I also say its best to wait until your body is acclimated to all the awesome changes. Although cross training helps prevent injury, aids in recovery and overall makes you stronger...too much too soon can offer the exact opposite.
About a year into my post baby weight loss, I added weight training to my run routine. I began a program called Les Mills Pump. I hate the gym and standing around waiting for a machine or sets, so this program offers me a fast paced full body ass kicker at the convenience of my own home (mind you I work at a gym). I vary the program from shorter to longer sessions 3-4 days a week. Did the weights make me faster?? I think so. My times have consistently improved since putting on some muscle. Although I did endure a stubborn injury this year, the weight training probably had me recover a lot better. The structure and foundation needs to be strong in order to keep moving.
In the last few months, I also added some plyometric workouts. More leg strength just means more explosion. The stronger they have gotten, the easier it is for me to complete a run on tired legs, tackle bridges/hills and work on speed. If you know me, you know I despise speedwork so this is like the compromise I make instead.
Time injured meant my program revolved around just cross training. I was on complete run restriction, so I relied heavily on other things to keep me fit for an upcoming marathon. What I did...tons of time on the elliptical, every spin class on the gym schedule, lots of les mills and lots of plyo. Even though it was not my best time by any means, the point is that I finished that damn thing.
Start out slowly if you are just getting started, but by no means underestimate the benefits of trying out other things. They surely will compliment your running.
Confident, Stronger, Faster and Injury Free
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My first steps as a baby according to my parents was actually a run. At 5yrs old my dad took me to the NYC Marathon, but truth be told I had no idea why people were running down the street. All this was foreshadowing for what was to be a life of running almost 30 years later. "If opportunity doesnt knock...build a door."