When you want a little extra
Running at a recreational level, and especially a competitive level, is definitely a commitment. Not only is it a challenge to achieve your fitness goals, but it can be even more difficult to maintain those achievements for the long term.
Many runners who have participated in our group runs have asked what we do for cross-training. At first, we would simply respond by saying that running is enough training along. We still stand by this comment, but it has become clear to us that ONLY running isn’t necessarily suitable for all individuals, particularly those who run purely for recreation.
Therefore, in this article, we discuss some ways that you may be able to supplement your running workout with a completely different type of activity, allowing you to further personalize your training regime to something potentially more enjoyable for you.
What should you keep in mind?
First of all, given we are a running group, we do not want to discuss forms of training that will hurt any fitness benefits you have seen from running, or anything else that will be bad for your running workouts.
In order to address this, we feel that a focus should be placed on activities that do not cause an undue amount of physical stress to the lower body, those that have a high-risk of acute or chronic injuries, but still provide a different-enough workout that you will find it both enjoyable and beneficial.
Are we serious? Yes. Really? Yes.
Although we acknowledge boxing isn’t for everyone, take away any preconceived notions you have and you will see just how awesome it can be. Boxing really incorporates all types of workouts, but these guys and girls can definitely be considered endurance athletes. In fact, we actually started thinking about boxing after a couple boxers joined our running group as a supplement to THEIR workouts!
Many people think boxing is synonymous with fighting, but that is not the case. Most boxing gyms are more than happy to welcome recreational boxers who are simply looking to get or stay in shape, and you can even perform your own workouts at home.
Boxing is similar to circuit training at a fitness gym, where all parts of the body are worked in a highly intense manner, but definitely focusing on endurance and cardiovascular fitness. You will rarely touch a weight, as most exercises are performed under your own body weight. Furthermore, boxing-specific exercises add an extra level of fun, and can also serve as self-defense training.
Boxing is also pretty cheap. All you need is a pair of boxing gloves, hand wraps, a mouth guard (depending on how far your training goes), and your normal gym clothes. Eventually if you want to progress to your own home workouts, you can set up your own punching bag at home with relative ease and have other little things around like jump ropes.
Last note about boxing, you don’t have to spar if you don’t want. A lot of people think if they join a boxing gym that they are automatically volunteering to put themselves in the ring with an opponent. This is not the case, and most gyms are aware that this can even be a liability issue for them, so they shouldn’t ever be putting you in the ring without you coming forward and volunteering on your own. Even then, they will want to make sure that you are ready and comfortable with making that step.
Football and floor hockey
Football is a pretty obvious sport that could cross over to running, and all you need is a pitch and some mates to play around with. However, perhaps a more interesting, or at least unfamiliar, sport is floor hockey. Many community centres are stocked with floor hockey sticks. If you can find or create a couple goals/nets, a ball, and get some mates together, you can have some unconventional fun that likely puts everyone on the same level. It’s also a crazy workout!
In general we do not want to promote weight lifting if you are serious about endurance running. However, resistance training does not need to be geared towards sprint-type athletes that are looking to bulk up.
If you have a membership at a local fitness centre, consider circuit training. This usually has its own area in the fitness centre and is composed of various exercise machines. If they aren’t grouped together in their own area, you will simply just have to move around the gym a bit more.
In circuit training, you usually perform an exercise on one machine that targets a particular muscle group, then immediately move on to the next machine that targets a different muscle group, and continues, eventually working all muscle groups. People tend to perform the exercises with low weight and high reps, which facilitates enhancements to muscular endurance.
In general, what sort of training regime you develop is up to you. This will depend on what types of goals you want to achieve and how committed you are to running. Although we suggest the above activities, that does not mean there aren’t any more of similar or better benefit. As long as you aren’t feeling over-worked, are using low weights and high reps, and it is enjoyable, then you should be well on your way to great training regime, and an even better lifestyle!