By Brian Beatty, PT
Goal events, Marathon, Half-Marathons and Ultras of all terrains give us focus and motivation. We create specific run training programs for the event and put in the miles in a specific and thoughtful manner. Tempo workouts, cadence, uphill, downhill, speed work, steady pace, recovery pace, condition specifics …, all of these themes get put into the run training for optimal event preparation.
Rarely does the same focus and preparation carry over into how we prepare our bodies for, and recover from, the training miles. However, non-running (Supplemental Strength and Skills) part of a training plan can be critical for maximizing the benefit of the training. The goal of the base weeks should prepare you for the upcoming heavier run volume. Once you are solidly in the training schedule, it is a good time to relax the supplemental workout intensity, and focus on refining certain skills or elements of running form. As the run volume reaches maximal intensity, the supplemental work focus shifts to helping the body continue and recover from the running without breaking. Following this strategy, the intensity / volume of the supplemental work can have a balancing effect on the run volume.
It’s hard to do it all. But a little bit can go a long way. The most common event specific training shortcomings are: primarily, doing nothing; secondarily, doing the same thing without respect to training plan goals; and lastly, doing too much in a way that compromises recovery and training benefit.
This targeted non-run time training is Supplemental and Skills Training. The goal is to use it to maximize run performance. It has a different focus and purpose than Cross or Alternate training. Cross Training is valuable, but cross training has the focus on doing activities and patterns that are movement and functionally different from running. The goal of cross training is the give the body a break from the repetitive patterns of running. Tennis, basketball, paddling would be cross training activities. Swimming, cycling, elliptical are Alternate Training activities. They are not cross training, since they fundamentally subject the body to the same stress patterns as running. They can be great alternatives to run mileage, but the activity goal is for the similar result as a running workout. The exercises and activities in the ideal Supplemental and Skills workouts should have very specific goals that complement each progression in the run training plan.
For video examples of these exercise and more information, visit
Brian Beatty, PT, works with the Balanced Movement Studio team to support health and performance goals. They offer individual sessions, online consults, classes, and a growing line of online programming. balanced-movement.com