6 cross training exercises all runners should try

November 3, 2015

Cross training exercises can help runners maintain a healthy body, avoid overuse injuries and improve their results. If you are a runner, consider trying these 6 cross training options to boost your performance.

6 cross training exercises all runners should try

1. Weight training

Regular weightlifting can strengthen weak leg muscles, stabilize joints and increase running economy. Weightlifting also increases bone strength and can help prevent osteoporosis. For all of these reasons, a full-body weightlifting program is the cornerstone of many healthy athletes' regular routines. Plan on three weekly sessions to build and maintain your muscles.

2. Walking

If you're having difficulty adding more distance to your long runs, try walking your way to better endurance. Instead of running the entire distance, try a pattern of running for five minutes and walking for one minute to meet your distance goals. As your stamina increases, you can slowly extend the number of minutes you run.

Although walking is a great way to build endurance, you won't gain many other benefits if you don't need help meeting your distance goals. So if you're happy with your training gains while running, you can skip this cross training suggestion.

3. Swimming

Swimming is a zero impact sport that allows runners to build healthy joints and recover from running injuries. Completing basic stretches in the water is also more effective than stretching on land because the water helps support your body's muscles.

If you'd like to increase your flexibility and overall joint strength, swimming can be a great cross training option. Start with a single 30-minute swimming session each week. As your fitness in the pool increases, you can increase your workouts to two 45-minute sessions per week.

4. Water running

If you want to improve your stride and retrain stubborn muscles, strap on a weight belt and hop into the pool. The water offers a zero impact environment, allowing you to work on improving your gait without any risk to your joints.

If you'd like to revamp your gait, schedule 40 minutes of interval training in your local pool. A couple of sessions per week should be enough to help you see results.

5. Pilates

Pilates can help you build core strength and improve your overall flexibility, which in turn can minimize the chances of common running injuries. Also, if you hate weightlifting, the right pilates routine can be an effective form of strength training and replace lifting.

Pilates can be difficult for beginners, so look for a once-a-week introductory class to start. Your ultimate goal should be at least two sessions per week.

6. Yoga

Yoga can improve your flexibility and strengthen unused muscle groups, as well as teaching you how to improve your breathing technique. Yoga's relaxation techniques can also give you an edge when you're getting ready to race.

If you're interested in achieving better breathing, flexibility and relaxation, a beginner's yoga class is worth a try. Aim for two to four sessions per week for good results.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to cross training exercises for runners, so ultimately it is about discovering what will meet your needs and help you improve your performance.

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