Serious runners often put in between 40 and 80 miles a week. This can be very taxing on the body and can lead to injury and burnout.
To stay in prime condition, it's a good idea to switch up longer, less important runs with sports like cycling and swimming, which utilize the same muscles and systems but are low-impact.
If you want to reach your full potential as a cyclist, then you don’t want to swap speed workouts for cross-training sessions. Speed work is important and targets muscle groups and systems that can only be improved by running at a rapid pace. Instead, you could replace one of two long runs or tempo runs a week with an alternate sport.
Cycling is great for getting the heart rate up while reducing the pounding your body takes from running. Also, cycling at a high resistance or on hilly terrain can greatly improve strength. Since your main sport is running, skip high-intensity cycling — an activity that poses a high risk for injury unless your muscles are conditioned for speed cycling. In fact, even serious cyclists are advised to bike for at least two years before attempting high-intensity workouts.
Swimming is another viable cross-training workout for runners. Swimming builds upper body strength, which is also necessary in running, while simultaneously giving your legs a workout. If you’re not keen on swimming, try pool running. If you have access to a lap pool, amp up your workout with weights.
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During off-season training periods, follow these tips to minimize weight gain by improving metabolic efficiency.