Contributed by Jeff Henderson.
Cross training is extremely beneficial for anyone training for a half or full marathon.
One caveat to that is that if you are just beginning your new, active lifestyle we typically recommend getting started with one thing at a time. In other words, don't start a crossfit class and marathon training at the same time. However, if you have been training for half or full marathons for some time now is a great time to add some sort of cross training to your regimen.
Cross training, in our world of marathon training, is loosely defined as any aerobic activity that involves exercise other than running or walking. Cycling, swimming, crossfit, strength training are among some of the many forms available.
Why cross train? Very simply put marathon training is hard on your body. Any form of exercise that you can do to either supplement a run or walk, or to further strengthen your body with be of added benefit. The impact of running on our body is different that most other forms of exercises out there. Often times, after long runs or up-tempo workouts we feel sore as a result of the pounding our body takes. The impact force of most cross training options is far less than those absorbed in running, yet you still get the benefit of working out.
So, when/how should you add cross training? There is no one answer for everyone, however here are a few basic guidelines to follow:
No matter how you choose to workout remember that your body doesn't get stronger while you are working out. We get stronger while recovering. You should plan to have at least one full day of rest. Make sure that you follow the easy/hard/easy workout rotation.