Running is an excellent cardio exercise that helps you get in shape pretty quickly and that people all around the world have been loving for decades. Not only were we made for running, this sport is inexpensive and can be practiced at flexible hours almost anywhere. Once you start running and actually learn to enjoy it, it won’t be long until you’ll get an itch to set new goals and put yourself to the test.
So if you’re looking to take your running to the next level, there are a few areas in which you’ll have to make a shift: firstly your overall physical strength, and secondly your diet and lifestyle.
Yes, you guessed it- cross-training. Doing a certain type of exercise, mainly strength training, will boost strength and stability leading you to perform better (and faster) and more importantly help you avoid common runners’ injuries. Cross-training is a broad term used to describe any exercise or sport used to supplement your primary sport (in this case running). If you’re looking to cross-train simply to become a better runner and boost your performance, the best type of exercise is strength training and more specifically, plyometrics. If you’re asking yourself what is plyometrics, this page from 30 Day Fitness app will give you the complete rundown, plus examples of exercises. In short, plyometric training refers to short and explosive actions that increase agility, strength, power, quickness and speed. If performed quickly and in short circuits, this kind of training can also help you shed extra-unwanted weight.
Whether you’re a newbie runner or a professional marathoner, cross-training will give you some serious benefits. One of the most important being balancing out the muscle groups, as this will help strengthen the non-running muscles (core and upper body) and provide the running muscles with new forms of exercise. It also can reduce your chances of getting injured: always remember that a strong muscle is a healthy muscle. In fact, many studies have shown that runners that practiced cross-training on a regular basis (at least once a week) had statistically less chances of getting injured.
As mentioned earlier, running is a great way to get in shape. But you need to make sure that you complement it with lifestyle changes if you want to see some serious progress performance wise. Although, the most important thing is to not go out all at once- you’ll end up getting overwhelmed and giving up.
The best approach is to start with minor daily changes; here are some simple and easy things that can have a huge impact on your wellbeing:
- Drink plenty of water: it’s a given fact that the human body needs plenty of water, but this is even more true when you’re practicing endurance sports and sweating a lot. Here are some useful tips to help you figure out how much water you should be drinking on the daily.
- Eat small and frequent meals: eating smaller portions more frequently helps your metabolism stay active and your blood glucose levels stable, resulting in more energy.
- Eat fruits and vegetables: apart from the fact that they are truly delicious, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Muscles require fiber content to become strong, correctly absorb protein and consequently gain mass.
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep: getting the right amount of sleep is not only beneficial for your energy levels, it is crucial for giving your body time to recover properly.
- Rest: no matter how motivated you are, never skip a rest day. Rest is as important as training, because not giving your body time to repair itself can lead to injury, chronic fatigue and in extreme cases, even burnout.
In the end, no matter how small the change you decide to make to improve your health and well-being, it will always pay off. The most important thing is that you never lose the joy of practicing the sport you love.