Cross Training for Runners


Many runners, myself included at one point, think that the best way to get better and stronger at running, is to run more. Whilst that's true to a certain extent, the type of runs that you do and being consistent are a major key to seeing improvement in your running.

Effective training and getting stronger as a runner is not all about running though! Cross training is such an effective way of developing strength, conditioning and flexibility that compliment running and help you stay injury free - and in turn keep your training consistent!

Cross training promotes joint recovery, uses muscles in a different way to the way you do when you run(allows more recovery), strengthens areas of weakness, making you a stronger runner and in general just gives you a break from focusing on just a particular exercise/workout!

So, what can you do to cross train to aid in helping you become a stronger runner? Here are 6 different ways to cross train:

Swimming is great cardiovascular exercise and it's non-weight bearing, so it gives you a break from pounding the pavements! I swim at least once a week but I'm trying to swim more during the week. It definitely works your arms, shoulders and core(and legs too of course) and I've found that it's helped A LOT with my breathing with running - which is a massive help!

It's great for muscle recovery and it helps to maintain your aerobic fitness, great for adding into your regular running routine(and if you can't swim, why not start now and join some adult swimming lessons, I highly recommend it!).

Whether you get out on your road bike, go out on your mountain bike or you have a stationary bike, cycling is another great cardiovascular exercise that doesn't generate the same impact that running does. Seated rides can help work the hamstrings shins and calves whilst standing up for climbing hills can help work the quads!
Hills - both in running and in cycling, are such an awesome way of getting in a tough session in a short amount of time(I did a hill route on my turbo trainer the other night and it kicked butt!).

Now, I don't have any experience at all with mountain biking but I can imagine that it would be great too,  especially for balance and control on the bike!

Strength/Conditioning - Gym/Home
A structured strength and conditioning programme can work wonders for runners! It can help with improved running efficiency and enhance your performance!

Circuits, kettlebells, free weights and crossfit are all awesome for complimenting running and improving your strength, which should in turn help with injury prevention and will aid in helping you conquer your running goals!

If you have a gym membership, fantastic! If not, you can still do body weight workouts at home, there are plenty of workout videos online to chose from, you can buy kettlebells, dumbells, ankle weights and other accessories for quite cheap too!

I got my kettlebell from Tesco for a couple of quid and I've been using the BeastGear Core Sliders* during my home workouts. Both of these can give you a killer workout!

Exercise Classes
Exercises classes are great for all over body conditioning, flexibility, strength and toning! There are tonnes of different classes out there ranging from high to low intensity that you can chose from. A few examples of different classes you could try are: Zumba, Pilates, Barrecore , Rebound, & Body Combat.

Definitely something I need to do more of! Yoga helps with your range of motion and flexibility. The strength and flexibility that you can develop with yoga can help you run more efficiently and help you stay injury free. I found that yoga was so helpful for stretching out my muscles after a run. There's loads of different videos online of yoga sequences to do for runners!
Whilst this may not come to peoples minds with regards to cross training for running, walking is great for recovery! You use the same muscle groups when walking as you do when you're running, it's low impact and can be done almost anywhere!

I tend to go for a walk at lunch time everyday just to give my legs a stretch from being stuck at a desk most of the day - if you chose to walk as part of cross training, make sure you're walking quick enough to get the cardio/respiratory benefits from it too(it'll burn more calories! ;))

* Disclaimer: I received the BeastGear Core Sliders for free. As always, my opinion is my own and is not affected by items gifted to me. 

Question: Do you cross train as part of you running routine? What is your favourite way to cross train?

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  1. That's a great post Laura. I don't run, I cycle but the same applies really. I know I should spend more time strength training but it's just getting to do it.. not my favourite thing to do!


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