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No matter what sport you are training for, adding cross training can be a major benefit to your overall training program.  Whether it is to complete a marathon or qualify for Boston; do a sprint triathlon or finish an Ironman; participate in an obstacle race or an open water swim event; cross training is key to helping you be a better athlete.  Here are some reasons why you should cross train:

  1. Injury Prevention – overuse injuries are common, particularly when it comes to running. Running, while a great activity, can be very hard on your body.  By mixing things up and adding other workouts into your training, you will be letting your body become stronger, as well as giving it a break from the pounding running involves, therefore preventing injuries.
  2. Rehabilitation – there are basically two kinds of athletes. Those who have been injured and those who will be injured.  Unfortunately, all of us are affected by injury in some way, shape or form.  By adding cross training into your mix, you do not have to stop training all together, you simply need to change what you are training to allow yourself to recover.  The perfect example of this is a runner who experiences a leg or foot injury.  If that runner starts aqua jogging, they can still get in a great workout, mimicking the running motion and then be able to come back to the running scene when they are healed without losing much fitness.  Marathon superstar Deena Kastor regularly incorporates aqua jogging into her workout routine.
  3. Increased Fitness – Without a doubt, by adding cross training into your training program, you will benefit from having increased fitness. You will use muscles that you don’t normally use in training and you will become an overall better athlete.  Many of my clients focused strictly on one or two sports, but when I changed up their routine and added in workouts that complimented their current activities, the results were amazing.  Even adding in a different workout one or two times a week can bring off-the-chart results.
  4. Active Recovery – Let’s say you did a marathon over the weekend, and your legs now obviously need some recovery, but you don’t have to sit on the couch doing nothing! You could swim or even bike to get some blood flowing to your legs and flush out that lactic acid.  It will enhance your recovery as well as help that feeling of, “I have do to SOMETHING”.
  5. Enhanced Motivation – Humans are creatures of habit; we fall into a routine, get comfortable and stick with it. Even so, everyone is bound to get a little bored with a workout routine – by adding in some sort of cross training and mixing it up, it can make you look forward to your workouts.  Even better, when you see some improved results and find yourself stronger in areas you never even considered, it can motivate you to keep on going and setting higher goals.
  6. Explore Other Sports – We get it – you love your sport. If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t be doing it. However, adding in a workout you have never done or maybe even something you used to do as a kid and then quit as an adult can spark a new interest or new excitement into your training program.  Maybe you never tried kickboxing, but always thought it looked like and sounded fun.  Try it out!  You don’t have to limit yourself.  Sure, when your race season gets closer, it will benefit you to spend more time focusing on your actual sport, but in the “off season”, adding in some cross fit, cross country skiing, yoga, pilates, rowing, mountain biking, or whatever sport, is a great idea to make you become a better athlete.

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