As kids we are always told practice make perfect, but when it comes to running, having a one track passion may not serve you well in the long run. Yes the avid runner may love to pound the pavement, path or treadmill, but too much running can lead to burnout and cause injuries. The best way to avoid injury is cross-training, ideally something that preserves your fitness level, helps balance your body and provides some sort of pleasure. For a runner, the ideal option is mountain biking because it creates less impact on the body and recruits various muscles, but still gives you a good cardiovascular workout. By using various muscles it allows for less stress fractures; different use of leg muscles and increased strength if you incorporate hills and interval training.
Cross training is especially important as we age because our muscles have less shock absorption and our bodies require more recovery time. Some other benefits for runners that mountain biking provides include:
1.) great way to shed muscle toxins the day after a long race
2.) Helps clear your mind
3.) Helps build strength in running and biking
4.) Helps in muscle recovery
5.) Biking improves balance
Although biking is the ideal cross training option for a runner the differences are very vast. If you have never biked before you should expect your muscles to be sore in different places than before and remember that biking can be extreme or easy as you want it to be. An option for someone that is new to biking is to start with a spinning class at a local gym to get the proper form and alignment for your bike and get practice before hitting the outside trails. Spinning classes at local gym allows you to ride on a stationary bike with music and an instructor that guides you through a series of intervals as if you were on anoutside trail that will provide the perfect practice for a beginner biker. To become a better runner adopt a day to focus on cross-training whether you try biking or another cross training activity the key is to find something you enjoy, uses a variety of muscles and provides a good cardio workout.