Friday, March 28, 2014

Cross-training for Irish dancers: Running

What do you do for cross-training?

When considering Irish dance, what kind of cross-training do you think is best?

I used to run a lot, mostly to stay in shape, but I've stop because I dance almost every day. I thought that was good enough.

As a workout, Irish dance is a killer, but I want to improve as a dancer and I'm realizing how important cross-training is.

I've recently joined Instagram and I saw this great picture of Heather Monaghan gearing up for a run.

She's an amazing Irish dancer -  U17, 2x national champ, 5x regional champ, 6x world medalist.

Needless to say, she knows what she's doing.

She knows how to train to be a champion Irish dancer, and in her own words:

I'm "100% in love with Irish dance and I want to share it with the world."

I thought I'd pick her brain and ask her how running helps her as an Irish dancer. I was curious if running was just another way to stay in shape or if there were specific benefits for Irish dancers.

She is such a doll and got back to me asap! Here's what she said:

"It absolutely does!! It totally helps to stay in shape but it's great for lung stamina to get through steps and definitely makes your legs skinnier/more toned :)"

I thought that was great. I researched a bit more and found a printable guide on about the Irish dancers. It was put together by Duke University. (We thank you Duke!)

"Cardiorespiratory fitness improves the ability of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system to efficiently supply the muscles with blood (oxygen).

"Practicing Irish dance continuously counts towards cardiorespiratory fitness, because your heart rate is elevated; however, if you stop frequently (do one step at a time only), then the benefit is lessened. To focus on cardiorespiratory fitness, do several steps in a row, or reduce the breaks between each set of steps so that your heart rate does not drop as much (interval training).

"Alternatively, try any of the endurance activities listed in cross-training."

The guide goes on to list a few ideas to help with endurance: swimming, running, playing soccer or field hockey, jump roping.

I'm going to focus on running. My new goal for April:


Who else wants to join me? Perhaps you are already running and strengthening your endurance. If so, keep at it! Maybe you would also want to add on another bit of cross-training like weight-lifting to increase your strength or yoga to increase your flexibility.

I would LOVE to hear your success stories regarding cross-training!

What suggestions do you have? What is your favorite cross-training activity? What benefits in dancing have you seen?

Comment below or send me an email and I'll share your responses with the rest of the readers on this blog.

And one more thing...


Heather has such a great attitude. I want to share with you her latest post on Instagram. It's quite inspiring:

"Last year, Worlds was not my best Worlds, but I came out of it and realized how much I truly loved Irish step dancing and that I  should be doing it for that and nothing else. I took that and trained as hard as I could and achieved what I wanted to, so this year's Worlds, I'm going to train to the very best that I can and hopefully I can perform that way in London in 20 days."

Great perspective!


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