Injured? Try cross-training to promote recovery and stop the injury happening again.
We all know the benefits of cross-training when it comes to improving performance, but how can it help with an injury? Actually, preventing injury is the most recognised benefit of cross-training, though not the only one: it can also be employed to rehabilitate injuries, promote recovery, rejuvenate mind and body and rekindle motivation.
Physios who help runners see a lot of overuse injuries that could be prevented, or prevented from returning, if they did supplemental activities such as flexibility and strength training, took to the pool or cycled. Mix in some of these today and spare yourself the frustration of not being able to run at all later.
Cross-training comes to the rescue in two ways when you’re injured: it helps you to stay fit despite you being forced to perform your sport less or not at all; and by correcting the cause of the injury. If injury has forced you to suspend your normal training, a modified program that allows you to maintain fitness (without exacerbating your injury or prolonging your recovery) is the best option. For a runner, the best alternatives are water running, cycling and using an elliptical trainer, because they simulate the action and demands of running.
If you want to perform even better next season, you have to give your body and mind a break. A period of “rest and play” is a necessary phase in the training cycle, allowing your body to recover fully from the hard yards you’ve put in. An example in the off-season would be to have two weeks of complete rest, then 2-8 weeks of informal training where you do whatever you like — swim, do yoga or take a few group exercise classes. As long as you do some form of workout each day and get a cardiovascular, strength and flexibility benefit from the group of activities you pursue, you’re good.