Rodney (Chip) Gay, C.S.C.S.
When training for a running race, doing it the right way is essential for reducing injury, increasing running efficiency and improving your endurance. One of the best things you can do to prepare for race day is to cross-train. Cross-training is an exercise regimen that uses a variety of exercises to enhance overall performance.
Here are a few techniques that, when implemented into a cross-training routine, will help you prepare for your race:
- Long, slow, distance (LSD). One to two times per week, go for a long run (time) at a slow speed for a long distance (miles). This type of training builds up bone, ligament and tendon strength, all of which will help your body while running. Additionally, LSD training helps with endurance and transporting oxygen more efficiently.
- Intervals. Interval training focuses on short bursts of vigorous exercise. During a normal run, sprint for one to two minutes at a time every five minutes – about three to five times during your run. This method contributes to improving blood vessel flexibility, as well as increasing your VO2 max and aerobic threshold.
- Pace running. Commit a couple of your training days each week to running at the pace you plan to run on race day. This may change as your overall pace increases. Pace running is important to have in your training regimen because it mimics what you’ll be doing on race day.
- Other forms of cardio. Running is obviously a great way to train for a running race, but it is impact exercise. This means that your legs and body are taking a beating when you regularly run on hard surfaces. Be sure to utilize bikes, elliptical machines and swimming pools for additional cardio training. These exercises help you improve strength and endurance while reducing impact on your body.
- Strength training. Although cross-training for running is mostly aerobic, strength training is still a valuable component. Building lower-body muscles can help you while running on inclines, declines and other rough terrain. Upper-body strength assists in maintaining good running form – especially toward the end of a long run when stamina is wearing thin.
Cross-training is an effective form of training for a running race. Incorporate cross-training into your plans and you’ll be sure to notice positive results.
If you have concerns about your training regimen or potential injuries, it is always best to consult your health care provider.