I've been brainstorming this post for a couple weeks. As you reach the halfway point of your Cleveland Marathon training. The body can have a tendency to break down. Running can be rough on the body. People at SportsMed Hospitals often joke that their facilities are funded by runners. I want to share how I fight against injuries. I do that through cross training.
I'm a big fan of cross training and I think it goes a long way towards making me a better runner. In 2013 I have been swimming, biking, and running. Below are two samples you can implement in your training. It will still provide a benefit to your fitness/running while saving your legs from the stress of running.
Before you go into a I hate swimming panic (trust me, i've been there before). It can help you improve as a runner. I would like to suggest doing kick drills. These will help promote hip strength and cardiovascular fitness.
Take a kick board (most gyms will have these for everyone to use). Start off at one end and stretch out in a plank position. You'll want to kick with you hips. It's not easy, but kick the whole length (25 yards). Take a 30 second or so rest and then do the same back. Repeat this for 30 minutes.
I started incorporating these kick drills in October 2012 and it improved my running a lot. I could feel the benefits of strong hips when running hills. I think you'll enjoy this workout as a change of pace from running.
It's not secret that I am a diehard cyclist. I've ran some of my best races in the Fall. Why? because of my cycling throughout the summer. Like swimming, cycling can improve your fitness level without the stress on the body from running. During the offseason, I like to train with intervals. If you haven't interval trained. Give it a try. Hard intervals during the offseason are like storing cans of whoop ass that you can use during the race season to inflict pain on those who try to keep up with you.
There's two ways to train on a bike. Obviously, if you have one. Then I suggest riding it. No bike?? No problem, take a spin class.
A sample beginner's workout would be: Start with an easy spin of 10 minutes. This is easy and you should be able to carry on a conversation if needed. Once you are warmed up. Try doing 60 seconds of speed bursts. When you do these, increase the tension and increase your cadence to 90-100 RPM. If you're new to riding, take a 60 second break between intervals. If not, take a 20 second break. It is up to you if you want to take the tension off during the rest period. Do these for another 20-30 minutes. Then do a 10 minute cool down. If you take a spin class, they will incorporate intervals into their class.
These are just two examples of many ways to cross train. I'm a big believer in cross training and its benefits to your training program. I hope these ideas help. I think incorporating these into you program will not only benefit your running, but keep you from injury as well.