Q: I’m primarily a runner but I have interests in other sports and I use them to cross train. I don’t know how often I should be doing these other activities. Is there such thing as too much?
A: This is a great question. Many runners share this problem. We’re athletic people and have interests outside of running and oftentimes, some of those interests happen to be sports-related. Consider the type of cross training you’re doing to make sure it’s going to mesh well with your running. The idea is to participate in sports that will compliment running, tone needed muscle groups and elevate your fitness level. Yoga is great for loosening knotted muscles and preventing tightness from getting out of hand and causing injury. Cycling is smart for endurance and for strengthening leg and glute muscles for tough terrain when racing. Swimming is ideal for strengthening neglected muscles groups and it’s also a go-to for injured runners who don’t want their endurance level to plummet.
In regards to scheduling, think about slotting in the workouts the same as you would with running. If you wouldn’t do more than two tough running workouts in a week, don’t exceed that number by trying to fit in multiple different activities. Pick and choose so as not to overdo it. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re thinking of your cross training each as a separate activity on its own. Sure a long bike ride every week might seem reasonable. Add in a long run, a track workout, a pool workout and a full body toning session at the gym though and all of a sudden it becomes hard to balance.
Don’t do hard workouts back to back either. You wouldn’t double up interval workouts on the track so don’t do it with two different sports either. That’s not to say you can’t to two different activities in a day, it just means you must make the necessary adjustments to accommodate both.
Running should be to main goal. While training, think to yourself “Is this taking away from my running?” If you’re alternating between too many things, you may realize that you’re hardly getting in enough running. It’s time to back off. Similarly, too much can lead to fatigue. Balancing means listening to your body. If you’re more tired than usual, something has got to give. It takes a lot of trial and error, but you’re sure to get the balance right.