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Cross-Training For Runners

cross training for runners exercise injury prevention

Written by runnergirl training

Cross-training is an excellent way to allow muscle recovery from running and continue to work on fitness. It is a great opportunity to hone other performance skills, prevent injuries & stave off boredom. See more below!

Some thoughts to keep in mind when cross training for running are the following:

  • Select aerobic/cardio workouts to replace running workouts. This can include elliptical, walking, cycling and pool running. If you are currently using a running training program there may already be cross-training days built in. If not, substitute a few of the low to medium mileage workouts a week for other modes of exercise.

  • Try to match the intensity of the replaced runs (easy run = easy effort cardio, speed work = intervals or fast-paced cardio).

  • Incorporate strength training to balance muscle groups that may often become neglected when only running.

Benefits from cross-training:

Weight Loss
New activities challenge the body in new ways & help burn more calories compared to an exercise that the body has done 500 times. When the body becomes efficient at activity it burns less calories than a new activity.

cross training for runners lift weights Beast Sensor

Increase Strength
Make running easier by increase your muscle strength through resistance training.  Resistance work includes bodyweight exercises, weights, resistance machines, suspension trainers, etc.

Balance Muscle Groups
The same exercise routine constantly works the same muscles and neglects others. Adding in other activities allows less used muscles to be required to work.

cross training for runners yoga stretching flexibility yoga wheel

Overused muscles tend to become tight over time. Switch up the routine and incorporating flexibility work can help restore normal range of motion to muscles and joints. This can result in a more efficient stride length, less tension on the IT band, etc.

Increase Aerobic Endurance
Aerobic endurance is increased by adding on mileage or time to running workouts. The same principle can be applied by walking, cycling, swimming, or the elliptical. When your longest run is 5 miles and you want to run a half marathon (13.1 miles) your running program slowly builds the mileage over time. Continue adding to that effect through cross-training workouts to further increase aerobic endurance.

cross training for runners injury prevention healthy

Injury Prevention
Repeatedly overused muscles and joints can result in injuries. Plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, pulled muscles/tendons/ligaments can be the result of too much stress and strain.

Boredom Buster
Let’s face it, when you are knee deep into a race-training program, mental boredom can easily happen. Sometimes the thought of another long run for hours feels mind numbing. Trying something different can be a welcomed break and feel refreshing. Zumba anyone? 

cross training for runners increase speed running

Increase Running Speed
Cycling can increase running speed. It can train the body to recruit more muscle fibers without the impact of running. Cycling can also create additional mitochondria for converting energy in the muscle. When you switch back to running the muscles now have an increase in powerhouses.

Beast Sensor and Sockwell compression socks are featured in my pictures. I was not asked to feature them but do since I use them every day in my training program.


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