By Kristen Sieber

The purpose of cross training into a running program or training schedule is to enhance the strength, the endurance, and overall well being of your fitness and health. But, use caution when incorporating cross training so it does not inhibit your ability to improve your running. If you choose to work identical muscle groups to that of your running program, you will undermine the benefits received from cross training. This adds continued fatigue when those muscles should be resting and re-energizing. High impact programs that continue to mimic increased loading through the joints create vulnerability to degenerative changes. One of the trickiest guidelines to follow, I think, is not to train too hard into another program causing increased soreness limiting your ability to return to your running program the following day and regressing your progress.

Be sure to ease into a cross training program. Do not dive into a swimming program (pun intended) and not be able to pump the arms during tomorrow’s long run due to soreness. TAKE YOUR TIME! Allow a proper transition into new programs. Don’t overindulge. Cross training should be 1-3 times a week sprinkled in like little gifts to your body, not hurdles to charge over. This allows active rest and recovery, building cardiovascular endurance, breathing strategies, and overall strength and flexibility.

Pick a program that focuses on your weaknesses. Is trunk rotation an issue? Add in yoga for spinal mobility. Experiencing back pain or discomfort during running? Add in core stabilization and abdominal strengthening. Can’t make it through a long run? Build endurance with swimming, cycling, or the elliptical focusing on breathing strategies. Keep it all low impact, continue mobility but unload the joints if possible to allow blood flow to the area, aiding in recovery.

Most importantly, allow recovery, active recovery. Cross training gives us that opportunity to allow healing, prevent injury and maximize progress towards our goals – getting you to the top of that mountain.

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Kristen Sieber, DPT just moved to NC from Delaware and is working with ATI Physical Therapy in Chapel Hill – Sage Road. Kristen is looking forward to getting outdoors and enjoying the NC life to include running, kayaking, trail walking and whatever else she can find along the way.