Contrary to popular belief, running involves so much more than what you do on the run. While the physical act of running makes up a great deal of the sport, most runners understand the importance of supplementing their training with various other activities – commonly referred to as cross training.
What is cross training?
Cross training for runners is essentially the act of completing a workout that is not running. Cross training might involve anything from walking to swimming, biking, hitting the gym, playing a sport, or any sort of strength training.
Many runners try to implement at least one formal cross training workout into their weekly schedule. It’s a great way to mix things up, avoid monotony, stay motivated and build muscles outside of those used on the run.
No matter how obsessed you are with running, incorporating some form of cross training on a regular basis provides your body and mind with a much-needed break (whether you realize it or not). Not only does cross training help mix things up, it provides a variety of benefits for runners of every shape, size and ability level.
What are the benefits of cross training?
There is a plethora of benefits to cross training, particularly for runners. Including a regular cross training workout is essential for keeping your entire body strong – including the muscles you likely don’t use on the run.
Strengthening your entire body – everything from your core, to your hips, glutes, shins, ankles, arms, shoulders and back – helps you avoid fatigue on the run. Strength throughout your body provides energy when your legs start to fatigue during a tough running workout or long run.
Upper body strength is key to maintaining proper posture on the run, while lower body strength helps avoid injuries. Overall strength helps prevent muscle imbalances from occurring, which are one of the most common causes of aches and pains.
In addition, cross training provides a way for runners to mix up their weekly training and avoid both mental and physical burnout. Swapping a yoga routine or elliptical workout with an easy run is a simple way to keep things fresh and exciting.
Not to mention the fact that cross training helps prevent us overly-obsessed runners from falling prey to overtraining and the various negative ramifications.
How to incorporate cross training?
One of the best parts about cross training is that it is flexible. Unlike those structured speed workouts or double digit long runs, cross training can ebb and flow along with your training plan. When your mileage is high, a beneficial way to incorporate cross training might involve an easy recovery yoga routine or slow walk with your dog.
When you’re looking to stay injury free during important training, including various strength training exercises is a great way to build strength and stamina. If things have gotten really monotonous and you’re looking for a break, switching an easy run with another form of cardio (such as a spin or elliptical workout) is a great way to keep things interesting.
If you’ve been plagued with aches and pains and are toeing the line of injury, swimming or pool running are a great way to maintain your cardiovascular fitness while avoiding the impact created by the pounding of running.
The cross training options are truly endless – the only important part is that you do it.
While it may sound easy, many runners find themselves so caught up in the chance to PR or fit their runs into a training plan that cross training is often the first thing to go.
Luckily, with so many cross training options, finding time doesn’t have to be difficult. Try making your complete rest day and active recovery day, or adding in a few strength training exercises each day after your run. Before you know it, you’ll be a cross training pro!
If you’re sold on the idea of cross training and looking for some simple ways to add it to your training plan, here are 10 of the most convenient and beneficial cross training workouts for runners.
The 10 Best Cross Training Ideas for Runners
- 30 Minute Cross Training Workout Challenge
- 30 Day Strength Training Challenge for Runners
- The 15 Minute Bodyweight Workout You Can Do Anywhere
- Epic 30 Minute Spin Workout
- 30 and 45 Minute Elliptical Workouts
- 20 Minute Recovery Yoga Routine
- Essential Strength Training Workout for Runners
- Powerful Bodyweight Arm Workout
- 20 Minute Tabata Core Workout Challenge
- 30 Minute At Home Full Body HIIT Workout
Cross training doesn’t have to be a drag! While lacing up and logging mileage is undoubtedly why we all fell in love with the sport, cross training for runners is a great way to enhance your performance and enjoyment.
Take the time to find a cross training workout that you truly love. The best thing about cross training is that there is no right or wrong way to incorporate it. Switch things up with a different workout each week, or find one that you love and stick to it.
You might be surprised how much satisfaction you’ll find trying new activities each week. And when all else fails, remind yourself that cross training helps your body stay strong and healthy for all those miles to come.