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Cross Training to Run

July 16, 2013 4 min read

Running is a great choice for cardio. However, it is just as important to focus your cross training sessions on your legs as it is to add time and distance as a new runner. I was reminded of this the other day at my group run. Add these exercises to your current routine or use it on its own. These moves are great for individuals who want to run but are nervous about starting. If you are looking to increase your fat burning potential, this is good for you also. Disclaimer: I just learned I should be doing this shit!!! Now the hard part is getting to work. It's not pretty (even worse when I am doing my best Lisa-Marie in my living room) but its all me. Remember, what's right for your body is not always what's pretty. Enjoy!  

Timed Single Leg Stands

Focus: abdonminals, balance, concentration, patience

Stand on one leg. Make sure your standing leg is not locked and lifted leg is at a 90 angle behind you. Hold for 30 seconds on each side, 2-3 times per week. Add 10-20 seconds each session until you reach 60 seconds. [caption id="attachment_7663" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Single Leg Stand Single Leg Stand[/caption] Modification challenge: Raise your knee in front of you at a 90 degree angle or hold your leg straight out in front of you.

Single Leg Squats

Focus: Lower Back, Quads (thigh muscles), Abdominals

Arms straight out in front of you, keeping your back straight. Stand on one leg and bend your body like you are sitting in a chair. Start with 10 on each side, 2-3 times per week. Add 5 more reps to each side every week if you are a beginner, 10 if you are more experienced. Work your way to 50 on each side.

[caption id="attachment_7664" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Single Leg Squat Single Leg Squat[/caption]

Modification challenge:

Use a 5-15lb weights as a counter balance in each hand. Extend your arms straight out in front of your at should-level. Increase the depth of your squat until you can almost sit on the ground. You can use a box/bench to make sure your non-working leg is hanging either at or just below waste level.

Calf Raises (Version 1 & 2)

Focus: calfs, tibialus, soleus

Version 1 - Seated: With feet shoulder width apart and legs at a 90 degree angle (thighs parallel to the ground) press the balls of your feet in the ground raising your legs. Depending on your fitness level, start out with 20-30 reps, 2-3 times per week - adding 10 reps each week until you reach 50 reps.

[caption id="attachment_7668" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Sitting Calf Raise Sitting Calf Raise[/caption] Modification challenge: Add 5- 10lbs of weight (no more) and start with 20-30 reps again. *Its important to note that this method works, primarily, the soleus. This a slow twitch muscle and is best worked using higher repetitions with less weight being added. Version 2 - Standing: Using a raised surface and a wall for stability, place the balls of your feet on the edge allowing your your heels to sink below your toes. Pushing down with the balls of your feet, raise your heels as high as possible. Repeat 5 -6 times, 2-3 times per week adding 2-3 reps per session until you reach 20 reps. [caption id="attachment_7665" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Standing Calf Raise - lowered Standing Calf Raise - lowered[/caption] [caption id="attachment_7669" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Standing Calf Raise - raised Standing Calf Raise - raised[/caption] Modification challenge: Add ankle weights or hold 5-20 lb dumbbells in each hand. *This version primarily works the calf muscle. It is important to note that the calf muscle, or gastrocnemius, is made up of fast twitch muscle fibers, which are best worked using heavy weight combined with low reps.

Side Planks

Focus: abdonminals, back, shoulders

Start by laying on your right side with your left leg stacked on your right leg. With your right elbow bend, place it directly under your shoulder. Tightening your abdominals, lift you knees and hips off the ground. Make sure your head is in line with your spine. Hold this for 30 seconds before switching to your left side. Do 3-5 reps, 2-3 times per week. Ideally you should increase your hold by 10-20 seconds every session until you are able to complete 2 minutes. [caption id="attachment_7667" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Side Plank Side Plank[/caption] Modification challenge: Raise your free arm away from the body parallel to your shoulders and/or straighten the elbow you use to hold your body up. Notes from the amateur:  Check your ego at the door! If you are overweight you may not be able to start out with the recommended repetitions, thats okay. Start with as many as you can do, or as long as you can hold it, using proper form. You should find yourself up to speed in 6-10 sessions...and so should I. Where am I? I am currently I am starting from the bottom. I feel strong but am often reminded that I have a long road ahead of me. That plank is going be the best thing for me, the sitting calf raises too! I am going to be doing this 2 times a week minimum. Stronger runner, stronger me.  

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