The importance of cross-training for runners

Now that I’ve started training for my first half marathon this autumn, I’ve been thinking about the types of cross-training I want to include.

The number one thing on my list is yoga (happy International Yoga Day, by the way) as it does so much for my tight, aching hips. Not to mention the great work it does on a back which spends five days a week moulded into a cheap office chair, and shoulders which naturally live somewhere around my ears. Oh and then there’s the fact that it makes me feel less like killing everyone (even people who undercut on the motorway) and reminds me to relax. If it wasn’t for the evidence of my being alive, I might genuinely believe it to be the only time in the week I actually breathe.

To my horror, my usual class is FULL today, so I’ll be turning to my reliable back-up plan Yoga with Adriene tonight to try to sort my stems out (pigeon pose is the most exquisite agony).

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Image from www.tinareale.com

Alongside yoga on Tuesdays (and, really, every day in theory…) I’ve recently started one-to-one boxing classes on a Thursday and I love it. There’s so much to concentrate on, from the hits themselves to good form and moving around the ring… it’s excellent for making my neurotic brain shut the hell up. Plus I get to hit someone which, as you may have guessed from earlier, is very appealing to me. Of course the instructor wears pads, so I’m not going to do any damage, but talk about cathartic.

I’ve just bought my own gloves, and already thinking that I might have made a rookie mistake choosing white ones as, and this is kind of gross, whenever I wipe the sweat (and believe me, there’s a lot of it) from my face with them, they come away stained with mascara and foundation. Need to start remembering to take my make up off before class. On the plus side, my instructor pointed out that the only other boxer to wear white gloves was Apollo Creed (Rocky’s badass nemesis) so I’ll take that.

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I’m also a big fan of fitness classes – anything from Zumba to spinning or Body Pump– and I love adding these in as and when I get time. This week I’ll have no time as I’m seeing a personal trainer tomorrow to learn to lift weights! So excited. It’s too intimidating using free weights without knowing what I’m doing, not to mention potentially injury-inducing, so I figured it would be money well spent. Weights are the perfect way to build muscle and get stronger, and should balance out the constant cardio of running perfectly. I will be channeling Chloe Madeley (honestly, have you seen her abs??)

I use cross-training to do several things. Firstly to help with my flexibility, which seems to be getting worse the more I run, and to help stretch out any sore muscles. Secondly to build my strength and make my body more powerful. Thirdly to stop me getting bored. And, most importantly, to decrease the risk of injury that running alone might present.

What do you do to cross-train?

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