Fall is synonymous with a lot of things: cooler temps, changing leaves, pumpkins, football–just to name a few. For some, it’s also prime race season. From 5Ks to marathons, the calendar is packed with races to choose from. But it’s how you prep during the summer months that will determine what happens at the finish line this fall. And if you’re looking to put your best foot forward, you’ll want to be sure to add cross-training into your pre-race routine.
“Cross-training is one of the most important pieces of training that most people overlook,” says Orangetheory’s resident marathoner and clinical exercise physiologist Kelly Drew. “Running can take a toll on your body. Anything you can do to make your body stronger, more efficient and less injury prone will make you a better athlete.”
All too often, new and even experienced runners fall into a similar trap: they think that in order to run faster, they need to run hard each and every day. But when you look at top athletes, the foundation of their training is easy running and cross-training–with only about 20 percent of their weekly routine devoted to hard and fast workouts.
“By cross-training, you can improve your cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance while reducing the musculoskeletal stresses caused by the impact of running,” says Drew. “It can also give you a mental break from running daily, helping you avoid burnout.” In short: Cross-training keeps your body and mind strong and ready to help you crush it on race day!
What is cross-training, exactly? Think of it as anything that’s not running. Your goal is to get the same heart-pumping cardio benefits–without pounding the pavement. “Walking, biking, rowing, using the strider and weight lifting are all great forms of cross-training,” says Drew. “This type of cross-training directly improves running economy by strengthening the muscles that help you run long distances.” Drew recommends at least two days a week of cross-training, especially for those who are training for longer races such as marathons.
No matter your race goals, workouts such as Orangetheory can be a perfect complement to your training. There are two main ways to work it into your running routine:
- Establish a Holistic Training Regimen: Some runners use Orangetheory to replace an interval or hill workout in their schedule, says Drew. “In the studio, you are getting those essential aspects of training–sprints and tempo efforts–that can sometimes be difficult to do on your own. This is paired with rowing and strength training each workout, giving you a double benefit of a running or power walking workout and cross-training.” Runners that utilize this approach typically take class two times per week, sometimes adding an easy, short run beforehand. (Drew’s tip: Avoid doing an Orangetheory workout the day before or the day after a hard run or any run over 90 minutes.)
- Go Run-Free: Another way to incorporate workouts such as Orangetheory into your running schedule is to use it purely as cross-training, meaning use the bike or strider instead of running on the treadmill. “This is great for more injury-prone runners or those doing high mileage in training,” says Drew. Aim to add this approach twice a week, especially after hard workouts.
Feeling inspired to start a running or power walking routine? Or maybe want to take your current training up a level? Join us at any studio in August for Marathon Month. You’ll decide which challenge you want to tackle–a half marathon (13.1 miles), marathon (26.2 miles), or ultramarathon (31.1 miles or more)–adding to your total distance with each class you take. It’s an empowering way to build consistency and community, and it’s perfect for fitness enthusiasts of every level. “Anyone is capable of establishing a base of running fitness that they can take out to the roads for Fall races,” says Drew. “For the more seasoned runners, Marathon Month is a great way to test their fitness by seeing how much distance they can cover in class.” Come September you’ll be stronger and more confident, ready to tackle all of your Fall goals.