Whether you’re a beginner runner or an experienced marathoner, you can benefit from cross-training. Cross-training is any sport or exercise that supplements your running. Cross training can add balance to your body by working muscles that do not get much attention through running.
What Counts as Cross-Training for Runners?
The most important aspect of cross-training for running is the cardiovascular workout. Effective cross-training will maintain or improve your cardiovascular system while giving your legs a much needed rest from running.
Here are some great activities that can count as cross-training for running:
Cycling is an effective low-impact way to boost your cardiovascular fitness and strength, especially your quads and glutes. A long bike ride can be as relaxing as a long run, so many runners enjoy biking as their cross-training activity.
Swimming is a great cross-training activity for running because it gives your joints a break. It allows you to build strength and endurance, and also improve flexibility. It’s a great balance for running because you’ll really work your upper body, while giving your leg muscles a much needed break. Swimming is especially recommended for people who are prone to running injuries or are recovering from an injury.
Water running is a great alternative for injured runners or as a substitute for an easy running day. It’s also a smart way to get in your runs during hot and humid weather. While you can run in the water without flotation aids (vests, belts, etc), you’ll find the workout to be easier with them.
Rowing – An excellent cardiovascular, low-impact activity, rowing strengthens the hips, buttocks, and upper body. As with all activities, it is important to make sure you use proper technique to maximize the benefits of this activity and avoid injury.
The bottom line: If you need a break, take a break. If you want to give your joints a break without taking a break, choose a cross-training activity that will keep your heart rate up for the length of time that you would normally be running. Whatever you pick, make sure you enjoy it.
“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!” — P. Mark Taylor
Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running: