Is Complementary Training Right For You?
“Military leaders have always recognized that the effectiveness of Soldiers depends largely on their physical condition. Full spectrum operations place a premium on the Soldier’s strength, stamina, agility, resiliency, and coordination. Victory—and even the Soldier’s life—so often depends upon these factors.” – FM 7-22
As runners, we know that generally the lighter we are, the faster our body can move. Yet, as I train for running, I have learned to love cross-training. The first reason is simply because the Army requires me to, and second because there are goals to be accomplished in the gym as well. Without cross-training or complementary training (as I just heard in a recent podcast) I may be able to devout more time to running, but would not do well at the mandatory Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). Since 2009 I’ve had to maintain a high level of overall fitness to meet the requirements. It’s not only motivated me in the gym but has lead me to enjoy my runs more as well. Lastly, I’ve been able to accomplish more goals through complementary training.
The APFT is two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups, and finishes with a two-mile run. 75 push-ups, 80 sit-ups, and a 13:00 two-mile are my goals on the APFT. It is designed to ensure the maintenance of a base level of physical fitness which is essential for every Soldier, regardless of job or location. I have used Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance as my complementary training since December 2011 and it has worked very well to keep me out of injury. Core work is a huge part of Crossfit and I would recommend starting there.
You don’t even have to step in a gym to do planks, sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups. Those four exercises can be a starting foundation for strength complementary training. However, I would not stop there. Don’t be afraid to step into the gym. Every time I find myself hitting a plateau I know its time to hit the weights more. I’m not saying that we need to add to our workout hours, but when we are in a base building phase, we should split off a bit of time for the gym.
Finally, we can always be growing as runners. Whether adding in speed workout or adding complementary training like yoga, Pilates, or getting in the gym and doing some Crossfit or finding a foundational strength training program. If you just run for the joy and release, that is excellent, but if you’ve found your times becoming stagnant don’t be afraid to start devoting a few of those running minutes to complementary training.