Cross-Training for Runners

by Dr. Jeffrey Ross, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S.

When cross-training comes to mind, what types of exercise or equipment do you think about? Swimming or aqua running, exercise bikes and “spinning”, treadmills and elevated speed walking, stair steppers, and now the latest craze, the elliptical trainers, are all possibilities. How many have you tried? Do you even know what they are? You may have seen a variety of designs on television, and if you belong to a health club, then you’ve probably seen them.

I discovered them about a year ago when I went to my health club’s exercise and weight room after a run. I was looking for an alternative to the stair stepper, which I felt put stress on my knees, Achilles tendons, and the balls of my feet. I saw this interesting machine called the “elliptical trainer.” It looked pretty simple, and the pedals were fairly large to stand on. As I watched others exercising on the machine, I noticed that their feet and legs never experienced any impact. That immediately got my curiosity going! I also saw that the movement on the machine was similar to running or climbing. I’m a runner who also likes to cross-country ski, but this seemed to be easier than both. All of the participants appeared to be working up a good sweat, and they were all either watching television or reading the newspaper. I liked that just as much.

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