At some point in our running journey, we will be faced with a niggle or injury which means we need some time out of running. We are then advised to cross train (swim or use the bike, rower or elliptical) but have no idea where to start. I've had my fair share of injuries so I've had to learn how to keep fit using non-running training methods. Of course we would rather be out pounding the pavements or exploring on the trails and getting some fresh air, but you can keep super fit by making a plan and embracing some new sessions.
Where to start
First of all, find out what you can do that is pain free. The last thing you want to do is to jump on the rower and find this still causes you pain. Explore all your options. From indoor spin classes, outside riding, pool and open water swimming, rowing machine and the elliptical, there is plenty of options to choose from. And you can mix it up too!
Stick to your Runna plan
By following a plan and keeping up the structure, you are more likely to commit to cross training throughout your time off. I would recommend using your Runna plan as your guide and converting all your sessions. This might sound like a bit of a faff but once you've done it a few times, you'll quickly get the idea.
If you have a 5k easy run, and your typical pace for an easy run is 5:00/km pace, then you know this will take you approximately 25 minutes. Since cross training is non-impact, and therefore less stress on the body, you can afford to do a bit more, but don't go crazy. I'd round it up to the nearest ten. So in this example, your 5k easy run would be a 30 minute cross training session.
If you have an interval session of 10x 400m (60s rest) and your target pace for each 400m is 4:00/km pace, then you can workout that each 400m rep would take you around 1 minute 36 seconds. I'd round this to the nearest half a minute. So in this example, do 10x 90s HARD with 60s EASY.
You might now be wondering - but how hard do I go? Did you know that you can convert all your sessions to RPE (rate of perceived exertion)? Simply go to 'Manage running plan' then 'Preferred Unit' and switch to RPE. This will give you an indication of how hard to work during each session and you can change the resistance or elevation on your chosen machine to match this effort.
Focus on your weaknesses
Injuries suck. There is no denying that, but we can learn something from every set back we have. We might identify a muscular imbalance between our left and right side, make a change to our running form or improve your recovery between sessions. Use your time away from running to focus on the areas you can improve on so you don't make the same mistakes when it is time to get back into training. And when the time is right, go slow, progress gradually - and follow our post-injury plan!