The Zen Art of Cross Training For Running

If you experience pain while running, you are not alone. We are here to help!

In 1999, I ran my first NYC Marathon.


During the preparation phase, I was in a seated desk job, working as an executive assistant, and I had never run a race in my life. As I ramped up my mileage, my knees began to swell and ache because I simply didn’t know about the cross-training that is necessary for running. I was thrilled that I could put on my sneakers and, ‘just go,’ only the pain my joints and feet from the impact, made it hard to enjoy.  The first 2-3 miles of each run were tortuous. 

If you experience pain when you run, but you don’t know what to do, you are not alone. The key is a solid core warm up, maintaining your flexibility, and learning how to make sure to keep any overactive muscles in check. I’ve now run the NYC Marathon 3 times, and I actually enjoy my cross training much more than the runs. In our running program at Pongo Power, Rev Up to Run!, we’ll teach you the key techniques necessary to enjoy your runs, and reduce any risk of injury.  

It is important to foam roll overactive, tight muscles.  Most runners have tight hips (specifically hip flexors), not necessarily because of running, but rather because we are seated so often in our culture.  Make sure to get a foam roller that isn’t so dense and hard that you can’t bear to use it! Softer foam rollers can be just as effective in helping your body to release and inhibit overactive muscle.

When you are foam rolling, be sure to breath, and engage your abs!  Do not forget to breath, because foam rolling can feel intense.  Reframe the process, as something that is as relaxing as massage, and you may be able to get greater benefit from it: i.e. a pleasant sense of relief.  By breathing properly and pulling your belly button into your spine while you are rolling, you will be activating your deep, intrinsic, stabilization muscle fiber.  

For most people, these tight muscles include the: glutes, hip flexors, quads and calves.  Also, purchase a handball, tennis ball, or a tennis ball to roll your feet! It is important to to keep your fascia hydrated, and rolling improves blood flow and circulation.

Activate your core! After foam rolling, lie on a mat on your back, and practice diaphragmatic breathing. This will help to activate your core musculature, and it is critical to breathe properly while you run! Inhale, inflate your lower abdominal cavity/diaphragm. Exhale, and pull your bellybutton to your spine: deflate. This trains your body to utilize your entire lung capacity, rather than just breathing into your chest. The drawing in maneuver also helps build transverse abdominis.

After activating your abs, make sure to activate your glutes! Hip raises, with a static hold of more than 30 seconds, will engage your glutes. Lie on your back, wriggle your shoulders down away from your ears and lift your hips. Squeeze your butt cheeks together. Breath, and hold the position, building up to 60 seconds.

Engage in a dynamic warm up before your run, and save prolonged, static stretching for after. You do not want to hold your stretches much longer than 7 to 11 seconds, before a run, because static stretching before a run, can interfere with your body’s ability to run efficiently. A hip flexor stretch, can feel like a wonderful relief, and really help to open up those overactive hips!

We are happy to send your our e-Book, and invite your to join our running club. if you would like to learn all about how to cross-train for running! Email coach Ben, for your Rev Up to Run! e-Book today!


Rev Up to Run!

Sign up for more information about Pongo Power's fall running program, Rev Up to Run! This group class will help you safely increase mileage, teach you everything you need to know about cross training, and set you up for years of successful running. Invest in a happier, healthier, active future!


Come in for a free fitness assessment!

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search