If you’ve run a 5K or 10K and are now ready to take your running to the next level, then half marathons are where it’s at, especially the Platte River Half Marathon on April 2nd. But how do you go from a 5K to a half marathon? Cross-training. Cross-training can help you build endurance, speed, and strength—all key components of conquering the half marathon challenge.
What is Cross-Training?
Cross-training involves engaging in activities other than running that will benefit your overall physical fitness level and help reduce the risk of injuries associated with running—like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, or runner’s knee. These activities can include swimming, biking, yoga, weight training, circuit training, Pilates, kickboxing…the list goes on.
Benefits of Cross-Training
Cross-training helps runners build strength in muscles that don’t normally get worked during their runs. It also helps strengthen weaker muscles that may cause imbalances if not worked properly—for example, if someone is an avid runner but never spends time stretching or doing yoga they may find themselves with tight hamstrings and weak hip flexors which can cause injury over time as well as reduced performance while running. Furthermore, cross-training allows runners to work different muscle groups while giving their bodies a break from pounding the pavement day after day—which means less fatigue and better overall performance later on down the road when race day finally arrives!
Yoga & Stretching
Yoga is another great form of cross-training for runners because it offers both physical benefits as well as mental benefits too! On the physical side of things, yoga helps increase flexibility which will make it easier to move through certain poses during races that require agility (such as leaping over rocks). It also helps increase blood flow throughout the body which can help reduce fatigue during runs. Mentally speaking, yoga has been proven to reduce stress levels which can be helpful before big races since they can often cause a bit of pre-race anxiety. Taking some time out each week to practice some calming stretches or poses can help keep those nerves at bay come race day.
*Here’s a great 20-minute yoga routine tailored to runners that you can incorporate into your weekly routine: Yoga for Runners – Physical and Mental Stamina
Integrating Cross-Training Into Your Routine
The best way to incorporate cross-training into your running routine is by scheduling specific days during the week for each activity so that you are getting enough rest between workouts. For instance, if you are training for a half marathon you could plan to run three days out of the week and then do some form of cross-training two days out of the week – one day focusing on strength exercises like weight lifting or bodyweight circuits and one day focusing on flexibility exercises like yoga or Pilates. This type of schedule allows for adequate rest between workouts so that your body has time to recover and perform at its best when race day arrives!
No matter what type of exercise you choose to incorporate into your routine when preparing for a half marathon – whether it’s swimming laps in a pool or taking a boot camp class – remember that cross-training is meant to complement your running routine rather than replace it altogether. When done right and integrated into a well thought out schedule, cross-training can help make you stronger and faster than ever before! So lace up those sneakers (or put on those swim goggles) and get ready to go the extra mile!