Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon
Flying Pig Wellness Team

New Year’s resolutions to get you in shape for 2011

One trick to staying with your regimen is to mix it up so you aren’t doing the same routine each week. So how about trying a cross training regimen? Personal trainer Mary Soller from Soller Fitness and a member of the Flying Pig Marathon’s Wellness Team has some guidelines about putting a menu of exercises together to reach your fitness goals:

Runners may voice that “I’m a runner” in an almost boastful manner, however, if you dig a little deeper you will find more to the story than just the obvious. Cross training, or complementary training as I call it, is essential to overall running fitness. Yes, the running component is key, but supporting all of your hard work with proper maintenance is what will keep you in running shape. Complementary training or cross training is a tool to help you keep your health/wellness intact, whether you’re a fitness runner, avid runner or the occasional weekend 5K or 10K participant. Cross training will help reduce injury, balance your running muscle groups, help with boredom and support your cardiovascular fitness. So here are some questions that you may be asking:

Q: I’m a runner and want to work on my running muscles. Why should I do cross training?
A: Some of the basics were mentioned above (injury prevention, help with imbalance of muscles, boredom etc.) but there is more in depth information that makes all of this talk make sense. There are different planes of motion that the body utilizes for movement. Cross training will help sum up all of your parts instead of just a few select. This type of training can be achieved by not only doing strength training with free weights, using body weight exercises and exercise machines but also functional training relating to and focusing on balance, flexibility and core stability.

Q: Is there a specific cross training exercise I should do?
A: There is not just one type of exercise to do. Remember, running uses your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors and calves, but also back, shoulders and arms. Strengthening your muscles apart from running can help decrease injuries, help with form and give you a more balanced body. Also, complementing your cardio with other non-running routines can help avoid fatigue or just help mix it up and not make your routine so stale.

I’m a huge fan of the TRX (Total Resistance Exercise) system which you use your own body weight for hundreds of exercises. Many of these exercises use multi-planar motion so it’s a great tool to use. Here are some examples of cross training or complementary training: Lower body: lunges, side lunges, hip extensions, leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises. Upper body: bicep curls, triceps, push-ups, shoulder shrugs. Core: abdominals (obliques and front), planks, back extensions. Now, these are just suggestions and there are so many routines and exercises that would make up some great cross training.

Q: What about weight training? I don’t want to bulk up and hurt my running times.
A: You won’t bulk up adding weights to your training. Do remember that just like starting a running program, you need to start with a base. Your body needs to get accustomed to the weights or other exercises being introduced. I would highly suggest seeking out a professional such as a personal trainer or experienced individual to work on a plan and get a routine in place. The benefits of weight training can be seen in performance, reduction of injuries, and can help prevent fatigue and even recovery rates.

Q: With the weather getting colder I’m spending more time inside. Can an elliptical machine or stationary bike do me any good when it comes to running?
A: Absolutely, considering that these still concentrate on cardio fitness and they offer low impact. Not only can these be used to “mix up” your routine but can be used for active recovery days, which means you are doing an activity that is similar in nature (working the same muscles) but more gently and with less stress. So make sure you are still getting enough true running into your routine, and don’t be afraid to get out in the cold and enjoy the weather. It can be an awesome experience to run while the snow is falling or the frost is lingering on the trees. Of course, always keep safety in mind.

Q: Is there anything else that can help besides cardio work or weights? How about pilates?
A: Of course, consider our discussion regarding flexibility and core. Pilates and yoga are methods that can help with range of motion, posture, breathing, circulation, abdominal strength and flexibility. Building a foundation is beneficial and function is key to your running efforts. If your body functions like a well oiled machine this will equate to good form, decreased injuries, less fatigue, and increased recovery rates.

If you currently have not been cross training maybe you should complement your running and think about giving this gift to your body. Enjoy!