Monday, April 28, 2014

Cross Training - "Changing It Up!"

Do you run every single day without ever taking a break?  Well, unless you are hell bent on doing some sort of running streak, running every day may not be your best strategy.  When it comes to aerobic exercise, every so often, your body could use a change of pace -- that is why I recommend Cross Training.

If you run every single day, you risk an overuse injury -- common overuse injuries for runners include plantar fasciitis, runner's knee and iliotibial band syndrome.  So, why not run four to six days per week, and try different aerobic modes on the other one to three days?  I recommend the elliptical machine as a great alternative to running -- you can even run on this machine without the impact.  If using an elliptical machine with "arms," try using 25 percent upper body and 75 percent lower body -- this will get you to use some muscles in your upper body to a greater extent than when you are running.  When exercising on the elliptical machine, be sure to stand upright and keep your abdominal muscles tight -- this will ensure that your pelvis stays stable and therefore, prevent lower back pain.

I am also a fan of swimming as an alternative to running.  When performed correctly, the freestyle stroke is a great aerobic exercise -- it uses the entire body with a tremendous emphasis on your core.  An added benefit is that there is absolutely no jarring on your body.


Meb Keflefzighi on The Elliptigo
  image from www.running.competitor.com
Now, if you are a fan of outdoor exercise, try an ElliptiGO (see photo on left).  This is a crazy new machine that gives you an absolutely phenomenal workout!  Check out their website at:  www.elliptiGO.com.  I fell in love with this machine at the 2013 New York City Marathon Expo  -- it combines the best of running, cycling and elliptical training, and is a low impact exercise.  The ElliptiGO is on my "purchase as soon as I can" list.  You can go on ElliptiGO's website to find the dealer that is located closest to your hometown.  It is so worth the trial ride!

Every once in a while, trick your muscles by subjecting them to an aerobic activity other than running.  In addition to injury prevention, cross training helps to prevent plateaus by challenging your body to move in different ways than it does when running.