The Mystery of Cross-Training Explained

Blog | 03/16/2021

By the Pat’s Run medical team at Banner Health

What do walking, jogging and running all have in common? First, they are great ways to increase our fitness and improve health. Additionally, they all occur in a straightforward motion. Think about it for a moment: when you go for a jog, you might run a loop around the neighborhood yet your movement is still accomplished in one straightforward plane of motion. During every walk or run you complete, you use the same muscles repetitively. As you may be using these muscles more as you increase your training in preparation for  Pat’s Run, it’s important to train properly and safely to optimize your performance and prevent overuse injuries.

As previously mentioned on a prior blog, The Magic Power of Exercise, walking and running can have innumerable health benefits.  Unfortunately between 24% and 85% of runners will experience an injury each year, most of which are related to training. One way to reduce overuse injuries is to incorporate cross training into your workout routine! While you might have heard the phrase cross training get tossed around in the fitness world, you may not have completely understood its meaning or potential impact.

Cross training simply means completing an alternative exercise that’s not necessarily specific to your sport. For example, for runners, cross training could include activities like swimming, biking, stair climbing, resistance or plyometric training. These activities may use some of the same muscles used in running but in a different way or work other muscles that aren’t routinely used in running. Cross training can also improve your performance resulting in faster times and we all LOVE faster times! If you have a friendly competition with loved ones for the upcoming Pat’s Run, this might give you one leg up. Pun intended.

While there is no precise recommendation, incorporating cross training a couple days per week into your exercise program could help reduce the risk of overuse injuries and increase the activation of lesser used muscles. So while it may seem counterintuitive to take days off from running, it could help in the long run. Pun intended, again. Not to mention, you might limit potential boredom with only running and find joy in participating in other types of exercise. We want you to be in peak fitness and injury-free moving into this year’s Pat’s Run. So let’s stay on track and get ready the right way for the big day — Pat’s Run 2021!

Remember if you have any known health conditions, it is strongly recommended to speak with your physician prior to beginning any new exercise program. Some activities may not be safe for those with specific medical conditions or physical limitations.

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