Using explosive sports for cross-training

Using explosive sports for cross-training

We often recommend including some cross training in your running training programme, especially if you're prone to injury, because it allows for extra training without putting pressure on your joints. 

So what about other high impact sports like squash, tennis, football or hockey? Can you use explosive sports as cross training in your running training programme?

Check out this video to find out the benefits and risks of cross-training and, in particular, using sports like football and tennis that use explosive power. 

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Welcome on to another edition of RUN with Coach Parry. I'm Brad. So we've got the coach with us once again and today we're talking about cross training and not the normal cross training when it comes to running like swimming and cycling. But other sports. Lindsey, it's good to have you on, how's it?

It's very good Brad. It doesn't feel like a whole week has passed since we last chatted.

Yeah, absolutely. Lindsey, let's talk cross training. Obviously, you're a big fan of it, particularly for guys who are injury prone and need to build extra fitness over and above a running programme. And often we talk about using swimming or cycling as effective cross training for running. But we had an interesting question pop up in our forums, and it was about using squash as an opportunity for cross training. What are your thoughts on using other sports? Maybe not the mainstream, maybe like tennis or other sorts of things, as far as cross training within a running training programme?

Look, I have been asked this question a few times over the years. And I've got to say that there are obviously some pros and cons. Now one of the reasons why I like cross training is because it changes the focus from an eccentric load or, in simple English, pounding. So when we're running, we hit the ground quite hard and there is a lengthening of the muscle as the muscle essentially is protecting our joints. So that's what's known as an eccentric muscle contraction. And the reason I like cross training is because it allows more training without those eccentric contractions. So that's why I typically choose swimming and rowing, cycling, elliptical, those type of things.

So squash, tennis to a slightly lesser degree, hockey, football, these types of things do provide a pretty good, higher intensity, type of workout. In squash, there's lots of lunging and stepping. So there's a good sort of strength benefits to be had for that. But they all increase that eccentric loading to quite a high degree. So I almost feel like, yes, there's an opportunity to do that sort of thing, especially if you enjoy it and it gives you a good mental break from only running. But then I would probably reduce my running load somewhere else. And I would still aim to incorporate perhaps some extra, more traditional cross training or low impact exercises into the routine. And obviously, all of these sports come with a risk. So again, it depends what you're using running for.

But if you have a specific race goal in mind, you have to accept that playing tennis, playing squash, playing football, hockey, these all have inherent risks of turning ankles, falling, bruising, and you know, the squash court is a pretty hard surface. So there are some, some high forces going through. So definitely with a sport like tennis or squash, I would look at reducing the load somewhere else in the week, because those are very hard surfaces with very high impact and lots of short sprinting. So I would say that if running is part of a health drive and it's more for lifestyle, then, of course you can incorporate those kind of things. But as soon as you start focusing specifically on trying to get a 21K PB or your first marathon or marathon PB, you have to understand that there are risks involved in doing those type of activities.

Yeah, I think a prime example is someone we had a couple of years ago, Lindsey, who was training for Comrades. He'd been training for 9-10 months in the build up and decided he was going to play some beach volleyball two weeks before race day and ending up breaking his ankle. So that's the last thing you want to happen. I think that's some great advice there as well. Lindsey, as always, great to catch up. Thanks for the advice. We look forward to catching up again next week.

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