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Why running is not enough to be a better runner

As you might have already worked out, I’m an extremely keen runner and I’m passionate about showcasing the benefits of exercise and how they can enhance your lifestyle and mental health. In recent years my own lifestyle and career changes have directed me more towards working alongside runners and helping them to progress their performance, whether that’s improving their Parkrun time or training for an endurance event.

One thing that comes up a lot when talking to other runners is the lack of cross training within their exercise schedule - I see it time after time; runners trying to get better at running by running some more! Indeed there is some fiber of truth to this, but how about changing the demand you put on your body and give it some extra support so that it can perform even better next time you lace up those trainers?

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Introducing different forms of exercise will most definately compliment your chosen sport, not just running. Some of the many benefits of cross training include improved cardiovascular fitness, reduced chance of injury, muscle group balance and also avoidance of boredom.

In more detail, there are three main components which are important to train in order to develop conditioning, whether you’re a runner, footballer, rugby player or hockey player, to name a few. These are speed (moving as fast as possible in a straight line), agility (changing direction quickly and efficiently) and quickness (instant rapid responses). I also like to add in plyometrics ( short bursts of power in the muscles and joints) to my client’s training as well as my own. Furthermore, core work is essential to support the main powerhouse to the body.. the ‘core’ refers to the abdominal wall, lower back and postural muscles, glutes, hip flexors and pelvic floor muscles (men have this too by the way!).

So how do you get involved?

Don’t over complicate it, it’s about moving differently and therefore working different muscle groups. Cross training comes in many forms including swimming, yoga, circuits, weight lifting and more!

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About a year ago I heard about Rabble (via Linkedin) which is an outdoor group activity which makes exercising fun! .. No really, it’s a series of games, many of which we all would have played when we were younger; such as Capture the Flag and British Bulldog. These have been adapted for adults as a progressive workout which challenges your cardio fitness as well as incorporating speed, agility and many of the other components which help to make us strong and fit. In the very first game I played I covered nearly 2 miles of running around and burnt just short of 400 calories in an hour. The best part is that not once did I think about how tough it was or was I even aware that it was effectively an exercise class I was taking part in.

In December last year (2018) I qualified as a Rabble Instructor along with three other running leaders from my running group Run Like a Girl. Having closely observed the ins and outs of Rabble gaming, I’ve become more and more intrigued by the benefits of this type of exercise class but more to the point, how it pretty much covers all of the components I’ve talked about above. In just one game, a player will partake in numerous directional changes, shuttle runs, high intensity intervals as well as challenging the core and cardiovascular fitness.

Whilst my approach is to introduce Rabble to members of Run Like a Girl to encourage them to cross train, it’s also just a really great way to socialise and exercise at the same time. You don’t have to be a runner, or even partake in a specific sport to play Rabble, it really is for everyone and all abilities.

You can read more about Rabble by visiting their website here

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