Enjoying Cross-Training

4-10 June 2018

Week 3 of my training block for the Clacton Half Marathon, modified due to injury.

Cross-Training (Gym Workouts) – Monday – Sunday

Although the injury in my shins has remained it has not prevented me from enjoying a wide range of exercises.

I have focused on workouts to strengthen my lower body, including using machines such as leg extension, curl and press, as well as dumbbell lunges, barbell squats and barbell deadlifts.

Every day I have also spent hours on the cross-trainer, static bike and rower to continue sweating.

I also purchased more running shoes from Vivobarefoot, to give me more support when I return to running.

Why I Now Foam Roll

A Fruitful Meeting

A fortnight ago I met a physiotherapist in a gym.

He explained how he helps a lot of runners return from injury using resistance bands and various foam rollers.

He told me every one of his rehabilitation programmes has self-massage as a component.

I asked him whether it would be prudent for me – not currently injured – to try.

He was surprised I didn’t already own this equipment.

So I bought five different types of cheap foam rollers: four spikey balls and a compressed cylinder.

Spiky Self-Massage Balls

Pain is Normal

I began by rolling my lower and upper legs, and found areas of my left calf and quads painful. This is of course normal, and identifies weaknesses in my body.

At this early stage of self-massaging, exploring my body is essential to understanding it better. My legs have no ill-effects and I now know where in my legs I need to strengthen (as well as stretch). This is valuable information that would have otherwise cost me in professional fees to discover.

Some is Better Than None

Although I received a self-massage stick in July 2017 just before I ran my third 10k race, I failed to implement it in my training routine. I currently make it a priority to foam roll during my morning stretching routine.

Psychologically it makes me feel better, and even if there are minimal benefits in the short-term I feel I need to explore alternative training tools in my pursuit of an important racing goal. This could aid my recovery from workouts, improving my chances of staying injury-free.

How Lunges Improve Your Running

Lunges are a great method of strengthening your legs and improving your balance. Lunges condition large muscles used for running including the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.

The smooth motion also allows you to visualise.

Position yourself with one foot forward, planted firmly on the ground with the knee bent. The back leg should be a step behind your body, your heel off the ground. Your back should be straight, with you chest out. Inhale as you lower your knee close to the ground, and exhale as you raise to your starting position. You should be able to see the tip of your front foot, even as you lower.

Forward Lunge

I undertake lunges of high reps to build my endurance, but have also completed workouts of low reps whilst holding weights as well as jumping lunges (alternating legs).

Personal Records 

Forward Lunges

Total reps in 1 minute (30 seconds on each leg) – 34

Total reps in 2 minutes (1 minute on each leg) – 66

25 lunges on each leg – 0:41

50 lunges on each leg – 1:21