Training for a PR in any distance race is a rewarding yet challenging endeavor. It can be tough on your body and mind. We have found that focusing on specific workouts and understanding how to recover and use rest days are the key ingredients to running a PR. Most training plans will have key workout days and rest days; what many plans lack is cross training. Understanding how to cross train and use recovery days will make you a stronger and faster runner.
We distinguish between two types of cross training activities: (1) Cardio, which is spinning, elliptical, bike intervals, walking, swimming, aerobics classes, and (2) Strength, Conditioning and Flexibility which includes Pilates, yoga, boot camp, and strength sessions or classes. Both types are important while training and for overall injury prevention and long term running health.
Cross training days are important because they help you help build aerobic fitness and muscle stability. By increasing overall aerobic fitness, you force the heart to pump oxygen through the body at a quicker rate. Over time, this makes your heart stronger, which enables it to deliver more oxygen to the muscles, and helps your muscles use oxygen more efficiently. Running is one of the best aerobic activities there is, however, just like your muscles, you need to switch up your cardio so your body can react and learn to work hard under all types of work. Muscle stability will help ward off injury and give you a much more solid base to increase speed. Running can overwork certain muscles, such as the hamstrings and quads, and essentially ignore major stability muscles including glute medius. Strength training brings more balance to your body.
Be careful to not overdue it on your cross training days. Too much intensity within a week can actually weaken your muscles. Classes are great because the instructor takes you through an array of work - hills or intervals, for example in a spinning class or full body strength workout in a boot camp class. If you workout on your own, it’s important to vary your cross training and make it counts towards strength, stability and fitness.Below, we have listed a few cross training ideas that will help elevate your training:
6-8 Sets of 30 seconds max effort speed intervals (ideally you are standing and the resistance is high). Recover at a very low and comfortable level for 2 minutes in between each sprint. Warm up and cool down for at least 10 minutes each. Do this only 1x a week.
Easy, Recovery Ride
30-60 minutes at an easy relaxed pace that is similar to your effort on an easy run. This is a great option to improve blood circulation the day after a hard run workout. You can do this workout up to 2x a week.
Strength Workout Do 2 sets of each exercise 2-3x a week. Avoid doing a lot of lower body work the day before a hill or track workout. (you can watch a demo of each exercise on our YouTube channel)
- Month 1: Plank (60 sec) | Side Plank (30 sec each side) | Lower Back Extensions - modified superman (60 sec) | Push-Ups (10-15x) | Bridge lifts (15x) | Bridge with Single Leg Walks (60 sec) | Single Leg Deadlift (30 sec each side) | Single Leg Calf Raises (15x each side) | Glute Press Up (30 sec each side) | Clamshells (12-15 each side)
- Month 2: Plank Walks (45 sec) | Side Planks (45 sec each side) | Single Leg Bridge Lifts (30 sec side) | Pushups (20x) Single Leg Deadlift (45 sec each side) | Single Leg Calf Raises (20x each side) | Glute Press Up (45 sec each side) | Clamshells (20 each side) | Squat Jumps (30 sec) | Reverse Lunge (30 sec each side) | Lateral Lunge (30 sec each side)