There are times when it is so cold outside that finding the motivation to hit the road running becomes super difficult. And then there are times when running outside is not only a bad idea, but also dangerous. When the snow, ice or freezing temperatures are relentless, don’t put yourself into a hazardous spot by going outside for a run. If you are worried that skipping your training outdoors will slow you down, don’t. Given that training for a race requires more than just acquiring miles, skip the pavement and try these functional training tools.
Nothing will keep you in shape and road ready more than working on your balance. If you’ve been skipping the essential things to build your core, you can be leaving your body vulnerable to trip and falls and injuries. The Professional Wooden Balance Board might look like a throwback to gym class, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t vital to improve your overall balance and keep your entire body strong. Sometimes as runners, we focus too much on our lower body strength. Warning–it might seem simple to use, but you will quickly find out that it is harder than it looks.
Remember when jumping rope used to be super fun? As you get older, it becomes a little less fun and a little more challenging. To keep your endurance up for long runs, pushing your heart and cardiovascular system in different ways is vital. The Sonic Boom M2 High Speed Jump Rope isn’t your regular playground toy. This jump rope isn’t just difficult because it is, well a jump rope; it is also weighted. That makes it even more challenging to develop not just your stamina, but also your upper body and core musculature. It is an excellent tool to work on the last minute energy push that it will take to beat the competition and turn your speed into high gear as you near the end of the race. Jumping ropes are just one of many fantastic functional training running tools!
Jumping rope is slightly different than jumping boxes. The Garage Fit Wood Plyo Box set is perfect for plyometric training. Plyometrics helps to build explosive energy, which is needed at taking off, and at the end of your race course. The boxes come in three different sizes, so you can progress and use them for different moves. If you are worried about missing out on your workout outdoors, you need not. These boxes will pack all the cardio and strength training you need into your exercise routine!
You’ve undoubtedly seen an exercise ball at the gym, but a new twist that allows you to train in different ways and on different planes is the Best Choice Products Yoga Balance Ball. Don’t be fooled by the Yoga part of the name. This ball isn’t only about stretching moves. You can use it to throw your balance off when performing lunges, step on it to do squats, or use it for abdominal exercises. Since it is different from a full ball, there are all sorts of ways that you can incorporate it into your exercise routine. The ball comes with instructions about how to use it in different ways. But once you get used to the mechanics of it, you’ll be surprised at all the many things you can make up to workout muscles you probably didn’t even know you had.
Remember scooter races as a kid? Well, the good news is that you probably learned how not to get your fingers caught! The Get Out! Scooter Board with Handles is a perfect way to build your abdominal strength, and it is really inexpensive. Either use the handles to move your arms in front of you for crunches or mix it up and put your feet on top to target your lower abdominals. Who knew that something so fun could be so torturous when you use it to get your entire body fit. It is a definite must, and the best part is that your kids can enjoy it when you aren’t using it. It seems to be an activity magnet in my house.
Exercise bands are not only a great way to target just about every part of the body; they are also a great rehab tool. If you have an old injury that has been plaguing you, take the time indoors to rebuild your weakest link so that it won’t end up slowing you down. Most people buy the ones that have the grips on them. I like the ones that don’t. When you don’t have the grip handles, it forces you to use different muscles to hold onto the bands themselves. And since I have hip issues, as most women runners do, it allows me to wrap them around my ankles and give my glutes and abductors a workout. There really isn’t anything that can’t benefit from a little band strength. So get super creative, look at your body in parts, and start to shore up any of those areas that aren’t as strong as others. That way when you can get back outdoors, they can’t slow you down!
I used to have a ton of different weights at my house, which took up a lot of needless space in my limited workout room. When I found the Boxflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells, I fell in love. They might be a bit pricey, but definitely worth it for me. You can adjust them to be whatever size you want in an instant. And then go from squats to bicep curls. A real space saver, I found them well worth the investment.
Instead of looking at the extreme conditions of the outdoors as a detriment to your workout, consider all the ways that you can work indoors to strengthen yourself when you can get back out on the road. Take advantage of nature forcing you to focus on training in different ways than just acquiring miles. It will not only make you stronger; it will help you prevent injury. And also, mixing things up helps to burn calories. So don’t look at it like you have been benched. Look at it like you have an opportunity to train all those things you might be missing! For more great functional training running tools and gear reviews, check out Racertrips’ blog today!
Julie is a lifelong runner, as well as a writer, a wife and the mother of six. Throughout the many challenges she has faced, the one thing she could always turn to was running, which is where she finds solace and healing. Ironically, it is when she runs until she can’t run anymore and feels empty, that she finds peace. Julie became a writer more than a decade ago when she wrote an ongoing blog for her first husband, who was dying of pancreatic cancer. She realized that she loved writing as much as she does running, and it became her life.