The Fix

Five Things I En­joy Most About Win­ter Run­ning

Canadian Running - - FEATURES - By Mary­lene Vester­gom Mary­lene Vester­gom is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to Cana­dian Run­ning. She’s cov­ered sports for over 20 years, in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple Olympic Games.

Did you know that one of the ben­e­fits of cross-train­ing is the de­vel­op­ment of a va­ri­ety of mus­cle fi­bre types and en­ergy sys­tems? This not only im­proves our aer­o­bic and anaer­o­bic sys­tems but makes us stronger, fit­ter and faster as life­long ath­letes.

Toronto’s Dr. Greg Wells, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of ki­ne­si­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Toronto, has worked with many elite ath­letes, and one con­sis­tent pat­tern these ath­letes share is us­ing com­ple­men­tary cross-train­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. “You want to be able to move be­tween dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties and en­ergy sys­tems that pro­vide you with ben­e­fits that can im­prove your abil­ity to do your pri­mary sport,” says Wells.

For ex­am­ple, if you’re a 10k run­ner or half-marathoner, try a spin class, row­ing or box­ing.

“Row­ing is ex­tremely de­mand­ing, es­pe­cially if you’re do­ing in­ter­vals on a row­ing ma­chine,” says Wells, “and since row­ing re­quires some dif­fer­ent mus­cle groups, your joints take a break from the pound­ing from run­ning.”

Find­ing an ac­tiv­ity that pro­vides re­lief from the im­pact on your joints while al­low­ing you to tap into your anaer­o­bic and aer­o­bic sys­tems is a win-win. As a for­mer na­tional rower, now triath­lete and trainer at Toronto’s Scull­house Row­ing, Emma Dol­phin agrees that run­ners can ben­e­fit by in­cor­po­rat­ing in­ter­val row­ing into their train­ing. “The big­gest mis­con­cep­tion is peo­ple think you’re pri­mar­ily work­ing out your back and arms. Row­ing ac­tu­ally uses those same big driv­ers as you use in run­ning – glutes and quads, along with your core. You’re us­ing the same mus­cles in the same func­tion, but you’re seated, with­out the im­pact.”

Wells says an­other ben­e­fit of in­ter­val train­ing on a row­ing ma­chine is breath­ing. “Since it de­vel­ops your aer­o­bic and anaer­o­bic en­ergy sys­tems, it teaches you to breathe in time with your move­ments, which is some­thing run­ners need to work on.”

“If you don’t have a good breath­ing pat­tern when run­ning,” says Dol­phin, “it can af­fect your stride, your pos­ture and how far you can run. Cadence is im­por­tant when you run and row, and it’s eas­ier to learn when you’re in a more con­trolled at­mos­phere like a row­ing class when ev­ery­one is row­ing to­gether in the same rhythm. This learn­ing trans­fers eas­ily when run­ning.”

And when it comes to the dou­ble whammy of an anaer­o­bic and aer­o­bic work­out, look no fur­ther than box­ing. “When you’re hit­ting the bag with var­i­ous punches, you’re work­ing on short bursts, which im­pact your anaer­o­bic sys­tem,” says for­mer Cana­dian na­tional box­ing cham­pion Wayne Bourque of Toronto’s Cen­tre Ring. Bourque has seen first-hand how run­ners have ben­e­fited from par­tic­i­pat­ing in his classes. Sixty-three-year-old Mark Nusca of Toronto has been a life­long run­ner and says the work­out he gets from box­ing is vi­tal to his aer­o­bic train­ing and car­dio­vas­cu­lar con­di­tion­ing.

Wells says box­ing also helps run­ners with their foot work. “Run­ners get st uck in a lin­ear pat­tern, al­ways mov­ing for ward, not side-to-side or back­yards. The abilit y to move bet­ter, to move around some­one go­ing up a hill, de­vel­ops bet ter at hlet ic sk ills a nd makes for a bet­ter run­ner.”

Whether it’s work­ing on mus­cle im­bal­ances or func­tional move­ment train­ing, just know­ing you’ve done ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to set your­self up for a strong race be­fore you reach that start line is what cross-train­ing is all about.

Cross-train­ing of­fers that men­tal edge you can take with you on race day. Know­ing you’re able to push to your max in a row­ing class or dig deep for that last f lurry of punches at box­er­cise tells you that you still have more left in the tank. That’s the men­tal ad­van­tage that’s es­sen­tial to run­ning.

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