The majority of you reading this use running as your main form of exercise. You're a runner - you run most of the time and do other activities to supplement your running. You run first, and swim/bike/yoga/climb/hike/lift/eat cookies second.
But, not everyone is like you (gasp)! Some people swim/bike/yoga/climb/hike/lift/eat cookies FIRST and run second. Who knew?
As a runner, you know that cycling and swimming are great for your cardiovascular strength. You know cycling builds up those leg muscles, and you know that swimming is an all-around good exercise for you. You know that climbing works your upper body and your mind. You know that lifting helps you develop a strong core and toned body. You know that yoga helps with your flexibility and injury prevention. You know that eating cookies....oh oops. Never mind.
But, how does YOUR sport help other athletes?
Let's take a look at how athletes in other sports use our primary form of exercise, running, to make them faster, stronger, better athletes.
When you think of climbing, you think of upper body and core strength. Yes, that is absolutely necessary. Think pull-ups, push-ups, wall hangs, etc. But what about cardiovascular strength? How about being able to hike to your favorite rock without getting winded. Many climbers use running as a way to build their lower body and cardiovascular strength. Many climbers say that biking produces legs that are too muscular to be good for climbing, but running produces all around "strong" legs that can help push off the rock. Strong legs allow them to be able to climb better on the wall, and cardiovascular strength allows them to be able to keep their cool and breathe properly. Additionally, running helps you learn to be able to push through pain - an obvious benefit for climbers. Check out this video of how climbing athlete Paige Claassen uses running to supplement her climbing:
Many cyclists will use high intensity running as a form of cross training for cycling. Let's say you live in a very cold, snowy climate, and most of your winter training is done indoors. Some cyclists like to use this time to add additional activities to their training regimen. Like cycling, running requires endurance and therefore makes a great cross training activity for cyclists. While many of the muscles used are the same, each activity does require different muscles, so cross training allows the cyclist to train different muscles that can help them be a stronger, more efficient cyclist.
Dancing is physically demanding. Ask any professional ballet dancer. Studies show that technique class is not enough for a ballet dancer - they need to supplement this with aerobic activity, as a dance show/showcase will require a higher aerobic capacity. Running is one of the quickest ways to make up the difference. Although running is actually gentler than ballet (the force of landing from a leap is about 12x your body weight; running is 7-8x), it does add more strain to already vulnerable joints. However, that doesn't mean dancers shouldn't do it. For dancers, more is not merrier. 30-45 minute runs will do the trick. Just as dance focuses on form, running does as well.
Weightlifting does not train your cardiovascular system in the same way that running does. For total fitness, aerobic exercise is necessary. Running is a great supplement to a lifting program as it exercises the most important muscle in your body, your heart. Bodybuilders may not want to do much running until they enter their cutting phase, but if you are simply a strength training junkie, feel free to run as much as you'd like. By correctly using a combination of strength training, proper diet, and running, many lifters are able to create that lean, desirable body.
There are two methods lifters take into consideration when using running as cross training:
Long, slow distance running burns a constant stream of fat (should be done for a least an hour).
Short, high intensity running burns a higher ration of carbs compared to fat.
Both of these running methods work and stress your cardiovascular system differently and both are beneficial.
For swimmers, running is a good form of cardio that helps maintain a healthy weight. Long easy runs help with endurance, while track/speed workouts will help the swimmer with speed. Running helps the swimmer continue aerobic and muscular development, and will also improve bone density. Additionally, hill running builds your quads and hamstrings and therefore helps swimmers produce a powerful kick in the water.
What you usually see is how yoga benefits runners. But what if your primary form of exercise is yoga? How can running benefit you? Think - breathing. Yoga focuses on breath, and so does running. Breathe in, breathe out. Next, think - alignment. Yogi's take care to practice proper form, and running teaches this as well. Next, think - meditation. One of the greatest challenges in running is keeping your mind in check. So, use the meditation and mind clearing techniques taught in yoga. In all reality, yoga can be quite the endurance sport. Don't believe us? Give it a try. That being said, the endurance aspect will spill over into the running aspect of the yogi's life, and vice versa. Running will help the yogi become a better endurance athlete, therefore being able to hold that burning Warrior Two a little longer.
The idea of this post was to show you that all types of athletes can benefit from your sport in the same way you can likely benefit from theirs.
Happy Tuesday - see you in the morning.
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Each week, we notice different things. We try to incorporate the questions we are receiving or the training issues we are noticing into our post(s) for the week. If there is something you'd like us to cover, let us know!