Cross Training 101

Cross Training 101

Cross training is an essential component to successfully preparing for any running event.  It helps to assist with injury prevention as well as give your body a break from the rigors of logging miles. Cross training improves recovery, overall fitness level, stamina, motivation, and rejuvenates the body by challenging it with different movement patterns.  Some examples of cross training include strength training, flexibility training (yoga), and endurance training.

When cross training, you may choose other forms of exercise that mimic the movement of running. Examples include water running, elliptical, cross country ski machine, or a stationary bike. Cross training days are different from rest days in your training schedule and you still want to exert the same effort you would put forth during a training run. Research has found that substituting 25-30 percent of your weekly mileage with cross training can maximize your overall running quality and fitness level.

As a runner, there are certain areas that you may be overly strong in while others you may be neglecting due to the same motion your body goes through with every step and arm swing. Runners tend to have:

Weak Hamstrings
  • Improves with…
    • Hamstring strengthening exercises
    • Cycling
Weak Upper Body
  • Improves with…
    • Upper body strengthening
    • Swimming
Decreased flexibility

  • Improves with…
    • Yoga
    • Pilates

Here is an example from Runners World that describes various cross training ideas when you are strapped for time:

  • If you have 20 min., try the rowing machine at the gym. Aim for an effort that feels like a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10
  • If you have 30 min., ride a stationary bike at a moderate speed (approx 90 rev./min.)
  • If you have 45 min., swim 25 meters hard followed by 25 meters easy; repeat until time is up.
  • If you have 60+ minutes, run on elliptical with an effort of 7 to 8 on scale of 1 to 10.