What is one thing that has been proven to prevent injury, promote recovery, improve fitness and enhance motivation in runners? Cross-training. Strength training, flexibility training, and endurance cross-training, such as biking or swimming, are the perfect supplement to a formal running training program. However, more and more individuals are skipping cross-training due to lack of time and knowledge on how to properly execute it. That’s why I’m going to take you through the importance of cross-training and give a few examples of how you can implement it into your running routine. 

Like I mentioned before, one of the biggest benefits of cross-training is injury prevention. Muscular imbalances, insufficient recovery, and overtraining are some of the major causes of running-related injuries. Cross-training helps with all three of these. Proper strength training will prevent muscular imbalances, low-impact endurance training like rowing or elliptical-training can decrease the stress put on joints and muscles to promote recovery and swopping a long run with a cross-training session can prevent overtraining without sacrificing endurance adaptations. For running beginners, it is even more important to cross-train in order to prevent the development of strength and flexibility imbalances. Strengthening your “non-running” muscles is important for both your everyday life and training program. 

Cross-training helps maintain running fitness, promote recovery, and improve performance if done appropriately. Core strengthening is also a great way to maintain proper running form and prevent fatigue. In addition, alternative exercises like water running, biking, rowing, and elliptical training can match a running workout’s intensity and volume without the added stress on joints and connective tissues. These exercises are particularly important for maintaining endurance and conditioning when an injury is present. They can also be used as a form of active recovery. Not only does cross-training aid in the recovery process, but it also has been proven to help increase running speed and power. 

Finally, Cross-training can enhance motivation and prevent training burnout. Let’s face it, doing the same workout over and over again, no matter how much you love it, can get boring at times. It’s important to have variety in a training program otherwise your love for running can decline. If you want to continue to increase your speed while maintaining your love for the sport, cross-training is a great way to give your body and mind a break. 

Overall, Cross-training shouldn’t be overlooked when creating or starting a new running program. Cross-training reduces your risk of injury, helps to balance muscle groups, maintains cardiovascular fitness, can improve your speed and helps avoid boredom. Make sure to include many different types of cross-training into your next program. With countless options, it’s sure to heighten your performance and keep your interest. 

Tessa Heitkamp

Cert. NASM Personal Trainer


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