As runners, we tend to do one thing and one thing only and that is run. You ask a runner what their training plan for the day is and very rarely you will get any other answer than running.
We tend to ignore cross training and in a way we are our own worst enemies because of this. We also push our bodies sometimes beyond what we can endure and end up hurt and frustrated. We feel that we must run the whole 5km or marathon in order to show our worth. We will also follow our training plan to the letter even though our bodies are screaming at us.
Have you ever thought of substituting your training run with a walk or hike?
Why on earth would you want to do something like that,
- It gives your running muscles a well-deserved break.
- It helps you recover quicker if you have stiff and sore muscles.
- It helps improve your endurance. (When I started base training I would start running and usually, before 2km I would have to slow down because my heart rate was soaring, it felt like I walked more than run but now I can run my whole session and it is all thanks to those walking breaks I used to take.)
- It allows your body to make small adaptations that strengthen your feet, knees, and hips.
- Walking uphill may even be quicker than running uphill.
There is also the training method where you take a one minute walk break every 2km and there have been a couple of people getting real good results this way, they also complain less about injuries and tiredness and say it is better on your mindset as well.
Maybe try it out on one of your training runs, what is the worst that can happen?
The other option that is absolutely great for your muscles is hiking.
Hiking not only introduces your muscles to adapting to new terrain, it also a great way to discover nature.
Hiking builds you leg muscles, just think about walking up and down Platteklip walking trail; it is a pretty good workout and your legs get to exercise muscles which are usually neglected during running. If you add a backpack with picknick goodies to the mix you will get even a greater workout.
Hiking is also great for your core muscles as you have to balance yourself on a regular basis which in turn fire up those muscles which you need for running.
Hiking on uneven terrain is a great respite from the monotony of road running—it’s also a chance for you body to use some of those little stabilizing muscles in your ankles and legs.
So dust off those old hiking boots and take them for a run….no a walk.