Written in collaboration with Mary J.
Cross-training is the act of training in a sport other than your regular one. Also, it is always a go-to solution for runners with injuries who are looking to take a break from regular exercise. Cross-training is also a way for athletes to curb boredom when they are recovering from illnesses or injuries. However, healthy runners would also benefit from cross-training. For a fit runner, cross-training would be an incredible way of preventing injuries, especially if preparing for a race.
Best Cross-training Exercises for Runners
1. Strength Training
Strength training is the number one cross-training exercise recommended to runners, as it is crucial for building muscle mass and increasing overall strength. Always remember: a strong muscle is a healthy muscle: meaning, the stronger you are the less you are prone to injury. The beauty of this kind of exercise is that it can be done anywhere even at home, as little or none equipment is needed. Runners who mostly work their legs and core, should try to focus on upper body strength, for example by doing exercises with dumbbells to work biceps or many other arm and shoulders exercises. All of these are a great way of building endurance for a runner.
Swimming is the best way to relieve the stress and strain that joints endure from running. Besides, it is also an excellent means of working out muscles that are usually neglected during other forms of exercise. Such tissues are found on the shoulders and the lower back. Exercising these muscles will help to enhance performance while running and build aerobic fitness.
3. Pool Running
Pool running is also referred to as aqua jogging; it involves overground-like running movements inside a pool. Other than the location, another difference between regular and aqua jogging is that aqua jogging is not weight-bearing. In case of an injury, pool running without the feet touching the floor of the pool is the most appropriate cross-exercise.
Cycling is an excellent exercise for the quadriceps. Running does not do much for the quadriceps. Weak quad muscles can lead to knee issues hence, the importance of cycling as a cross-exercise.
Skiing, especially the cross-country type, is a great way to make up for not being able to run conventionally. In several ways, skiing mimics the movements made in running with the additional element of exercising the upper body.
Hiking involves walking at a steady pace on a surface that is less than even. Hiking helps to work out the muscles on the legs, the glutes and the core, making it similar to regular running.
7. Hot Yoga
Hot yoga is similar to regular yoga with the distinguishing aspect being that it occurs in a room that is heated up to 40 degrees Celsius. It is an excellent way of burning calories, boost metabolism and sweat it all out. Hot yoga also helps improve flexibility.
The elliptical is a low-impact movement routine that mimics running. It is, however, easier when compared to running and it is a great way to build fitness.
Benefits of Cross-training
- Prevent injuries
- Rehabilitate and injured runner
- Improve fitness while preparing for a race
- Promote active recovery from an injury
- Improves performance and build strength
- Enhance motivation and rejuvenation
To get the best out of cross-training, the best option would be to combine these exercises and not just stick to one. Cross-training will help give your joints a well-desired break from the harsh workouts while building strength, power, endurance and muscles.
Be sure to check out my how to treat sore muscles post while you're here!