You can’t just run

Tegan Chappell is a member of the 2022 Otto’s Ottawa Power Crew. Tegan began running in 2014, after overcoming a significant injury. She started running shorter distances but worked her way from a 5 km distance to completing her first marathon in 2017, and completing four more marathons since. This year she will be running the Ottawa Half Marathon presented by Desjardins at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, which is her favourite distance, and is running in support of the Canadian Red Cross, Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal. She is an active member of multiple Ottawa-based running clubs and loves to train alongside those who share her passion for running.

By Tegan Chappell

Although you should never just run, the more you run, the more you can’t ‘just run’. While running provides a host of benefits, it is also taxing on the body, putting significant strain on not just muscles but also on joints, tendons, ligaments and bones. The muscles are where we want this force to be absorbed so building strong muscles is very important. One of the best ways to do that is to supplement running with at least one form of cross training, which will make you not only less injury prone but also a stronger runner.

I am a multisport athlete so getting my cross training in comes a little more naturally with my schedule. During the running season, I cycle and weight train. You’ll also find me paddling on the river and hiking on some of the beautiful trails in the Ottawa area. I also like to take breaks from time to time and pack my bags and explore other corners of the world. When I am targeting a running race, I dial in on my running but I always continue to incorporate weight training (and still usually find time for cycling). Not only does this help me get to the start line with less chances of an injury, it also keeps my training interesting which is important for maintaining a lifelong approach to fitness and exercise.

I may be a little biassed but I don’t think you can beat weight training when it comes to cross training. I also think that if you want to progress in your running, weight training will be a necessary part of that journey. Studies have shown that when running, each heel strike produces a force that is equal to 3-4 times your bodyweight on your legs and feet. A good weight training program for runners will not only target your leg muscles but also ensure you build strength in your glutes, hips, core and abdominal muscles. These muscles tend to be weak for runners so they are important areas to focus on when training.

If you’re starting a new strength program, I highly recommend working with a professional. You may even have insurance benefits that will cover this as it can fall under physiotherapy. A physiotherapist can also pinpoint not only strengths and weaknesses in your muscles but also find imbalances that could impact your performance as a runner.

So get out there and get your miles in but always remember that the best runner’s body is a strong body, so get that cross training in too!