Cross-Training for Runners
Updated: Mar 2
If you’re a runner, chances are you have heard how important cross-training is for you. There’s also a good chance that you don’t like the idea of cross-training and just want to run. Maybe, you don’t know what the best options are for cross-training or why it’s even important. Let’s go over some reasons cross-training is so important, some options for cross-training and how it can actually help your running.
Why Should I Cross-train?
There are several reasons for cross-training as a runner:
It makes you a better runner. Yes, you can actually improve your running speed and distance by adding in some workouts that aren’t running. Most runners we see think that it will take away from their training. The truth is that by adding variety to your workout plan, you will see better results in your runs.
It decreases your risk of injury. If you only run, you constantly use the same muscles over and over again. This is a problem for two reasons:
1) Those muscles can become overworked and worn down and are at a risk of injury.
Think about how often you’ve heard of (or have even experienced it yourself) a runner having achilles tendon problems, “runner’s knee,” or hip pain.
2) Other muscles become underworked. By cross-training, you can make sure your supporting muscles are getting worked as well.
You won’t get bored or burned out. Even the most hardcore and dedicated runner will eventually get burned out from just running. By adding in some other types of exercise, you will get a mental and physical break which can help you run throughout your life.
What Exercises are Best for Cross-training?
Sometimes we see runners who don’t cross-train because they don’t even know where to start. The great news is that you don’t have to overthink it. If it’s an exercise that is different than running, it’s probably a good option. Even something as fun or simple as dancing, walking the dog, or hiking can be considered cross-training. But, there are definitely some options that we recommend more than others.
Strength Training. This is our most recommended form of cross-training for runners. Why? Because it has so many benefits. It reduces your risk of injury, improves speed and performance, and allows your joints to take less stress because your muscles are stronger. Even one to two strength workouts per week can make a big impact on your leg-strength. If you don’t know where to start, our experts can help you, or we can recommend some great personal trainers in the area.
Swimming or Biking. These are great options because they work on your cardiovascular endurance while also giving your legs a break from the impact of running. Swimming is especially beneficial because it gives you an upper body workout that you don’t get with running.
Pilates or Yoga. If you are looking for flexibility and core strength, these are great options. Pilates will focus a little more on core strength while yoga will focus a little more on flexibility. Either way, your body will thank you the next time you go out for a run.
Hopefully now you see that there are a lot of benefits to cross-training and that it can actually help you become a better runner. Start by adding just one different type of workout per week to your routine and try to work up towards 2 or even 3. Even just starting slowly and with one workout a week will let you see the benefits and help your body recover and perform better.
If you are looking for help with your running, either recovering from an injury or trying to perform better, our experts are here to help! We have helped hundreds of runners in the DC area get back to their training program, and also help them hit distances and times they had never hit before. Contact us today and ask to speak to one of our experts to see if we can help you!