For all sports, running is a focus ingredient. What would baseball, soccer, football, basketball, or even wrestling be without the ability to run, move quickly, and adjust to a faster speed on the force of will? If you ask runners, there is nothing like running. It is the ultimate exercise that enhances all other forms of exercise.
Conversely, one could ask, what is the value of training in other sports for a runner? In a nut shell, the value is immense. All runners recognize the possibility of injury and how that would affect their capacity to win a competition for weeks, if not months to come. Running is a sport that creates an overbalance in certain areas of the body. The legs, of which the quads are a part, are developed well beyond the muscles of other parts of the body. A quad complex that is overdeveloped will pull at the hamstrings, often causing injuries that are long-lasting and hard to come back from. Running also neglects the upper torso creating an imbalance between the upper body and the lower body. There is also the boredom factor that exercise in a single regimen can produce.
All runners want to run to build endurance and cardiovascular strength. Aerobic exercise in any form will supplement this development. A particularly fine source of cross-training exercise is pool running. Running in water helps to keep the heart-rate down while forcing the runner to work harder to achieve success. A runner can achieve success by either taking it at a given tempo for a long period of time, or by forcing a faster speed through the pool for a shorter amount of time. Either way the benefits are enormous as the runner’s body adjusts to forcing itself against the muffling power of water. This exercises more than just the running muscles. The swimmers muscles also come into play causing development of muscles well beyond those required for running. And when the body runs in open air, it feels effortless compared to pool running.
Another great cross-training exercise for runners is weight-lifting or CrossFit. A focus on multi-joint, compounded lifts that contribute to fiber build-up is best. Of course it is extremely wise to get a pair of the CrossFit shoes designed to work a lot better to prevent injury. Wait a minute. What about endurance? That is what running develops. With weight-lifting a runner is developing muscle mass throughout the body. The body works in unison. Any runner knows how a weakness in the shoulder will cause pain that sucks energy from the body while running. This is also true of any other parts of the body. The back, the neck, the hips, the abdomen, and so many other muscle groups can hamper running if they are not kept in shape.
Road cycling also is beneficial to the runner. Though many think of this exercise as being mostly a leg driving operation, many other muscle groups are involved. Yes, it is true that power from the legs drive the cycle, however, these muscles are augmented by the back and the abdomen to an immense degree when road cycling. Also, it is important to note that road cycling will develop other muscles in the legs than those principally used when running. Such exercise balances the leg muscles so that the muscle group works in tandem effectively reducing the chance for injury.
Utilizing these three additional cross-training exercise formats will improve the ability of the runner. As in any other part of our lives, cross-training is an essential element that will help to alleviate any injuries and reduce boredom that exercising to the tune of one drummer can cause.