What is Cross Training for Runners?

If you ask any runner why cross-training is essential, most likely will mention injury prevention. And the truth is that, although it is one of the most important benefits, it is not the only one.

Runners who do cross-training benefit from many advantages since this type of practice helps them improve their physical condition, not lose motivation, lose weight or even gain power and speed.

This article will know what cross-training consists of, its benefits, and the most common activities that runners usually practice.

What is cross training for runners?

Cross-training is a combination of a career plan training with other sports activities to improve the corridor’s performance.

The main objective of this type of training is to work and maximize the cardiorespiratory capacity of the runner. By introducing at least once a week the practice of a different activity within a runner’s training plan, he or she can enjoy a comprehensive list of benefits that we will analyze later.

What Kind of Runner Should Cross-Train?

In reality, cross-training is a practice that all runners should introduce into their training plan at least once a week and vary the activity regularly.

However, some types of the runner should pay special attention to cross-training to include it in their weekly routine without fail:

Beginner Runners

They are the group of runners who can obtain the most benefits from cross-training. They will be able to develop aerobic endurance at different levels. It will help them improve their strength and speed, allowing them to advance faster in their development as runners.

Professional Brokers

Cross-training is also beneficial for top runners. It will not help them improve much more because their performance is optimal, but it will always be suitable for their maintenance, both at an aerobic and resistance level.

Runners With or Prone to Injury

Cross-training can be a good alternative for runners who have an injury. If you combine your rehabilitation with a sport such as swimming, it will benefit your recovery. Similarly, those runners prone to injuries such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinosis will find in CT an ally to prevent their recurrence.

Runners with Muscle Strength Deficits

Cross-training is an excellent option to strengthen those muscle groups in which you notice that you have the most significant weakness. It can be both active muscles in the race and muscle groups not involved in your running training. For example, you could go cycling to gain quadriceps strength or swimming to strengthen your arms and improve the efficiency of your stroke while running.

Former Runners Who Want To Get Back To Training

For those who have stopped running and want to start running again, cross-training is an excellent option. Undoubtedly, this practice will help them regain physical shape, gain the necessary aerobic capacity to return to training, and give the best of themselves again.

It is also an excellent option to stay in shape, keep the cardiovascular system active during snowy seasons in winter, and heatwaves in summer when going for a run can be challenging.

Benefits of Cross-Training for Runners

Performing other activities that are related to running will help you enhance your skills as a runner, and you will surely improve many aspects you cannot achieve just running. Do you want to know the benefits of cross-training? Well, there are many, so take good note!

Help Injury Prevention

Overtraining injuries are a common ailment among runners. However, there are ways to avoid their occurrence, and cross-training can help you prevent them.

If you are a beginner runner who has not yet developed strength or flexibility imbalances, cross-training will do you well to improve your endurance. The use of low-impact machines such as the elliptical is ideal for strengthening ankles, knees or back. In this way, you will begin to condition the muscles and joints that will receive a more significant repetitive impact when running and more vulnerable.

In short, if you are an amateur runner, practicing cross-training can be beneficial to reduce the amount of shock your body absorbs when you start running. It is an excellent option for veteran runners to stay in the sport and prevent injuries since the impact that their muscles, bones, and joints have received is as veteran as they are, and it should always be kept at bay.

Improve Performance

There are many goals that a runner can set to practice running, but without a doubt, the desire to run faster is always the most frequent. Even if you are not very fast or just started, you always try to improve your brand, and when you achieve it, you will indeed feel much more motivated.

Cross training for runners is a very effective means of becoming a faster runner. It may seem like a too bold statement, but what is clear is that a runner is more likely to be faster if he combines running with other sports than if he only runs.

more efficient, more strength, more power, and fatigue resistance are some of the improvements it can make to the performance of a broker practice of other activities. Combining running with another sport could be the key to becoming a better runner.

Encourage Active Recovery

We all know that we need periods of rest and recovery to perform efficient physical conditioning and advance the workouts.

However, some runners prefer to bet on active recovery, which consists of exchanging those rest periods for busy rest periods based on cross-training.

Supporters of active recovery believe that it is more efficient to perform light, well-scheduled sports activities other than running during rest periods rather than complete rest.

Helps Regain Motivation

No matter how dedicated and addicted you may be to running, always doing the same workouts, following the same routes or sticking to the same brand will eventually make you bored with the same routine.

Most people only get stimulated by a variety of activities and tend to fade away with monotony. Therefore, cross-training can be an alternative to lack of motivation.

If you practice this type of training, you will combine other sports and feel much more motivated. It is much better to get up one day and take your bike to train than to go for a run in a bad mood or stay at home doing nothing at all.

Strengthen Rehabilitation

In the first point, we knew one of the most significant benefits of cross-training: the prevention of injuries. But it is also essential to prevent its reappearance since more than half of the injuries that usually occur are ailments that reproduce again.

For this reason, undergoing full rehabilitation and not returning to training too soon will be essential to healing an injury fully. Cross-training will be the key to staying fit with low-impact activities.

Activities such as aquagym or stationary bike can work as suitable replacement training to continue exercising during your rehabilitation period. In this way, you will activate blood flow in the area damaged by the injury.

Serves to Discover and Enjoy other Sports

Having a good level of resistance is perfectly transferable to other disciplines. An excellent aerobic capacity can be used for running, swimming, skiing, or doing any sport that involves resistance.

Cross-training offers you the possibility of discovering new disciplines and enjoying what they can provide you with as an athlete. If you are curious about practicing other endurance sports, don’t miss the opportunity to get to know them.

However, you must bear in mind that each sport implies a specific resistance that can only be achieved by training that particular activity daily. Suppose that you add the genetic individuality of each person with their physical characteristics. In that case, you will have to assume that you cannot perform the same in one discipline as in another. You can’t be the best at everything! (or if?)

Some Recommended Activities for Cross-Training

There are many ways to cross-train, and each runner has his or her own, but today we are going to learn about some of the most recommended sports or activities for practical cross-training.


If you choose cycling, you will have the advantage of exercising this activity without restrictions since, whether with a mountain, road or static bike, you will not run the risk of suffering an injury from excessive use.

As it is a low-impact activity and does not require eccentric muscle load contractions. It is one of the most recommended aerobic options to gain volume without overloading the joints.

Cycling will help you especially exercise your quadriceps and glutes. Also, strengthening these muscle groups will come in handy to develop a better musculoskeletal balance as a runner. Of course, take great care of your posture and the type of bicycle you will use because bad posture could trigger an unnecessary injury.

Swimming and Water Activities

Swimming is another of the most recommended activities for your cross-training. Besides being excellent for improving aspects such as correct breathing and strengthening muscles such as the arms and back, it is a most relaxing activity that will help you release a lot of stress and tension.

Another advantage of opting for swimming for your cross-training is that it will help you to strengthen a lot of triceps, lats, shoulders and pecs. These are the muscles you need to train to perform a correct stroke and run in a much more efficient way.

The aquagym, hydrogym or aquarunning are ideal for the rehabilitation of an injury. Exercising in the pool will help you strengthen your lower body and recover more quickly. It will be perfect for you if it comes to ailments produced in the ankles and knees since underwater, there is a very gentle impact on the joints.

Elliptical and Gym Machines

The elliptical is also a highly recommended low-impact option since it allows you to perform an exercise as intense as running but without punishing the joints so much. It is instrumental if you have discomfort or an injury to your feet or ankles.

The use of dumbbells, weights, rubber bands and specific machines will strengthen your muscles. Significantly, they will help you maintain the areas you do not normally exercise during the race, such as the core and the upper body.

Training in the gym will not only allow you to perform exercises focused on building strength, but it can also help you improve your cardiovascular and muscular level without having to go out for a run.

Cross Country Skiing

This type of cross-training is the most recommended for mountain runners or trail runners. The reason is that the mechanics are very similar to what they follow when they run in the mountains but without impact on the joints.

The same muscle groups are also worked, allowing long training sessions without danger or fear of injury. It is a tremendously demanding sport at the muscular level due to the great unevenness that runners must face, but it is ideal for gaining a lot of strength and power in the lower body.

Another incentive for mountain runners is to continue working in a similar scenario, taking advantage of a natural environment and the benefits of exercising at a high altitude.

Combine, and you will win!

Start small, including 45 minutes to 1 hour of cross-training once every seven days or two weeks. If you can, try to vary your activity and alternate swimming sessions with spinning or elliptical classes.

Remember that cross-training aims to improve your aerobic capacity, so it is fully compatible with strength training and abdominal or lower back work.

After seeing the many benefits that cross-training can bring you into your running routine, don’t you want to start trying something new right away?

Break your routine and keep improving!

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