Inspired by my sisters goal to run her first half marathon I want to talk about cross training today. When I suggested this idea to my sister her first reaction was “crossfit? Ewwww, no”! First and foremost, cross training is definitely not crossfit. It could incorporate crossfit, depending on what you’re training for, but they are not one and the same. First of all, what is crossfit? Seems like every other person these days is wearing knee high compression shocks and throwing around bumper plates like no tomorrow. Well, according to the internets (always credible) it is a program developed to offer a full-body workout that combines elements of cardio, weight lifting, gymnastics, core training and more to prepare the body for the unexpected. Cross training however refers to an athlete training in sports other than the one that the athlete competes in, with a goal of improving overall performance. Cross training for a long distance runner would be quite different than cross training for a hockey forward. For instance, people have asked me what my 1 rep max is, can I do a muscle up, how long can I hold a flag pole? Honestly, I don’t know. None of those things, while Impressive, are of any benefit to my sport. I train for size and shape, any strength work I do is only so that I can further up my reps, so I rarely do anything less than 6 reps, and that’s with a pyramid set. Since this post is essentially dedicated for my sister I’m going to give some tips on how you can both build your lower body, while still improve speed and endurance for all my runner out there.
Improved muscle strength allows runners to develop more power, as well as providing more stability to joints, which helps to reduce injury risk. Weight training has also shown to improve running economy. Research has shown female runners training more than 20 miles a week included weight training three times a week for 10 weeks. These runners then performed treadmill tests at 6:30, 7:00, and 7:30 minutes per mile. They used 3.8 percent less oxygen at the fastest pace, increasing to 4.0 percent and 4.5 percent at the slower paces. A control group of runners who did not weight train showed no improvement in oxygen use. Improved running economy means you can run faster with the same oxygen uptake. I’m light of this evidence I would suggest changing up programming to incorporeal both high volume (20 + reps) for muscle endurance, focusing on those slow twitch fibers (which women tend to have more of than men), and explosive movements to improve overall speed and fast twitch fiber recruitment. Start with some low weight high volume squats, back or front barbell loaded. Our quads are a huge muscle group and provide a powerful extension of the leg, but our glutes give us that great pushing power (why hockey players have infamously large butts). Aim for 5 x 20. I’m between sets superset with 24 jump squats for explode power. Next move onto single leg elevated glute bridges, be sure to lift the hips nice and high to really emphasize the tension in the hamstrings ( 4×15). You can superset your bridges with Glute/ham raises (4×24). Lastly pyramid narrow foot leg press drop setting down for 8, 10, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30). Slow and purposely for the first 3-4 sets, then rep out the higher volume with an explosive tempo. Finish off your training with some conditioning, such as prowler sled sprints or intervals on Max incline on the treadmill. This should be some serious weight training cardio ladies! This type of training is more similar to a cutting phase for a bodybuilder, and should be seriously taxing, without adding much additional mass. Don’t fear the weights, bulking is purposeful and intentional, it doesn’t happen by accident, and make sure not to neglect your upper body either, now go get some 😉