Running Cross Training: 6 Do’s and Don’ts

It’s easy to get lost in the sea of information that’s out there on cross-training for runners! Check out Coach Nate’s six cardinal rules of running cross training to ensure you’re doing the right exercises in your training plan for your desired goal!

Running Cross Training: 6 Do’s and Don’ts

Running Cross Training: DO choose the right workout

Cross Training For Runners

It’s important to identify what you want to get out of your cross-training that day. If you’re looking for something restorative, yoga is a great option.

Find a class or an online video to train in a way that restores your body, and improves your core strength, mobility, and breathing at the same time!

If core strength and stabilization are your main focus, go for some pilates work. Pilates is a great low- impact cross training activity to train hip stabilization, and core strength from deep within.

For a more full-body workout, TRX straps are ideal. They definitely still involve your core, but they allow you to get into your arms and legs as well, all while working on balance throughout.

And if you want a longer workout with a greater stimulus, hit the gym! Barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells are the meat and potatoes of strength training for specific muscle groups, making them vital for us runners.

Choose which equipment you’ll use based on your level of strength, and start counting those reps!

Running Cross Training: DON’T assume that cross-training replaces running

cross training workouts for runners

Some days we have more aches and pains than others, that’s normal! This is when cross-training is so valuable, as it allows you to mimic the run workout you had planned without putting quite as much of a pounding on your joints.

Hop on a bike or a rower, or even jump in a pool, and complete the same workout you would do on the road without all the impact for a great cardio workout! Interval workouts, for example, transition easily from running to other methods of training.

But remember – these cross-training workouts alone won’t get you where you need to be by race day! Make sure running is still the focus, with these workouts being supplementary, and ideal for a day when your body isn’t feeling 100%!

Running Cross Training: DO add strength training into your regular routine

cross training for marathon runners

Adding whole-body strength training into your routine 1-3 times per week is going to take your running to the next level!

One of Coach Holly’s favorite exercises is barbell deadlifts because they train muscles that aren’t used too much when you run. Deadlifts work your core, your hamstrings, and your glutes. They’re also great for improving your running posture, helping us keep a nice straight back when we run!

Another TRE favorite is the overhead press. These are great because they improve shoulder strength and mobility, contributing to a strong arm swing when you run.

Running Cross Training: DON’T add HIIT if your run already includes it

cross training exercises for runners

In our run training, we want to alternate harder days and easier days to stay balanced. So if you hit the track for a tempo workout one day, avoid doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) the following day.

Doing both would essentially be like doing two track workouts back-to-back, which hinders our progress in the long-run.

This tip is especially important closer to race day when those run workouts are getting harder and harder. Around this time, focus more on your strength training, and give the HIIT workouts a rest until after race-day.

Running Cross Training: DO add HIIT during your off-season

cross training plan for runners

After a big race, your training possibilities are endless! This “off-season” period allows us to train as an all-around athlete, not necessarily just as a runner.

This makes it the ideal time focus on those HIIT workouts we wanted to avoid leading up to race day.

Bootcamp or circuit-style fitness classes are great options if you want a workout that’s already designed for you! If not, just create your own workout using exercises that get your heart-rate up.

Running Cross Training: DON’T let yourself get stuck in a rut

Cross Training For beginner Runners

Mix it up! It’s so easy to fall into a routine during your off-season, always going to the same classes or doing the same workouts.

Try to explore new workouts during this time to refresh your mind. You’ll be that much smarter and stronger as an athlete who has been exposed to so many varied workouts!

Coach Nate’s favorites: mountain biking, swimming, yoga, and even breakdancing!

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