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If runners only do heavy-stress workouts, their bodies won't be able to recover from the heavy stress, and over time this can lead to injury. The Heavy/Light principle of running states that runners should follow workouts of heavy stress with workouts of light stress to give their bodies more time to recover from the heavy stress. A general rule-of-thumb for the amount of time needed for recovery is 48 hours, although the actual time is probably different for each person.

Runners ask what activity should they do for the periods of light stress. The answer is, "What ever they want to do as long as it doesn't put a lot of stress on their bodies." It is important that the periods of light stress are restful, thus allowing their bodies to recover from the heavy stress. Of course, there are technical reasons for choosing particular activities for the light days.

For their light activities, some runners take days off and don't run or engage in other forms of physical activity other than their normal routines. Other runners run less distance, often at a slower pace. Still others engage in non-running activities such as cycling, swimming, walking, or lifting weights. We are all different, and we have different interests in choosing low-stress activities. The non-running activities are known as cross-training activities. Cross-training activities have one big advantage: they usually use our muscles in different ways than the muscles are used in running, thus giving the muscles a rest from the stress of running. Because of this broader use of our muscles, cross-training activities help us develop more well-rounded bodies.


The important consideration is that for runners who want to decrease their risk of injury, a day of light stress is a day of rest during which our bodies recover from the preceding day of heavy stress. This means that if we engage in cross-training on our light days, it should be at a lower rate of activity rather than our going "gung ho" with the cross-training. Athletes who are in intense competition, of course, will have higher intensity in their cross-training.

Here are articles that further explain cross-training.

bullet Eight Benefits of cross-training
bullet Cross Training Has Benefits
bulletCross Training Workouts
bullet Mix It Up

Home | Up | Plan Your Training | Training Details | Cross-Training | Total Body Strength

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