Running column: How important is cross-training to runners?

Mark Armstrong has had an injury setback. Picture: Edinburgh Marathon

Mark Armstrong has had an injury setback. Picture: Edinburgh Marathon - Credit: Archant

Runners love to run.

When I started running consistently last year I didn't really want to do anything else in terms of training.

Once you've experienced that 'runners' high' you want to experience it every time you put your trainers on.

However, to restrict your training to solely running isn't a great idea.

I know that if I went a few weeks where I just ran three or four times a week I would eventually break down – my knees just aren't up to it.


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My Achilles also get very sore when I up the intensity and if I'm not careful I will get full on tendonitis.

The only way round this is to accept that you have to bring in other elements of exercise to keep you out on the road – namely cross-training.

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Cross-training is a bit of a dirty expression amongst some in the running community. Purists will tell you that there isn't any substitute to running and that's right but that's not always an option for an injury-prone runner like me.

The key to cross-training is to approach it as a runner – you can build strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn't engage and correct any imbalances.

MORE: Five lessons learned training for a marathonCycling, swimming and strength training are all fine examples and they also serve up a bit of variety. Other people swear by yoga and pilates to complement their running.

I'm really enjoying my running at the moment but I know that won't always be the case. When I start to up my mileage in training for the Robin Hood Marathon in September I know it can be a bit of a bind.

When you're on your third loop around Whitlingham Broad just to get your miles in you do start to question why you chose running as a hobby (that's no sleight on Whitlingham!)

They say a change is as good as a rest so to throw in a bit of weight training is most welcome as long as I keep my running goals at the forefront of my mind.

I never want my running to get boring and I hope it can make up at least 75 per cent of my weekly training. But just one other different workout can make a big difference and enhance what you're trying to achieve.

MORE: It wasn't pretty but Mark Armstrong can call himself a marathoner

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