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Cross-training for runners

You are probably aware of all the benefits that come along with running. It can be challenging to imagine taking a day off and trying another form of exercise, but too much of a good thing can be disastrous. When it comes to jogging, pushing your body too far over the line can cause severe damage to your limbs, back, and even your teeth. Even minor injuries can be enough to set goals behind.

Cross-training is a great way to prevent injuries from occurring because it allows the body to activate new muscles, gives yourself time to heal, and you still reap the benefits of running. In one study posted on Springer Link, 30 well-trained subjects were given the task to cross train through activities such as swimming. By the conclusion of the study, researchers had found that trail times while running had drastically improved. But what types of exercise can you substitute running for to ensure that you are not going to fall behind?

Running Substitutes: The Big Five

Swimming: Who does not enjoy jumping into a pool on a hot day? Swimming is a delightful way to cross-train in cardio. It permits your body to stimulate muscles in your arms, practice your breathing, increases your heart rate, and optimizes your body fat burning range. Swimming can give you the same benefits of running while taking thee load off your legs for the day. If you are not a fan of the idea of just doing laps around the pool, consider water jogging. This motion provides the illusion of running with the waters extra restraint added. Balance is practiced while water jogging and will cause your average run to feel smoother.

Pilates: When you are on the run, you use your leg muscles, core muscles, and arm muscles to gain balance and run swiftly. Pilates is a great option to stretch and strengthen these muscles. This exercise will teach you how to keep your spine stable and safe while you jog, reducing the risk of injury.

Weight Training: Many runners free going to the gym to lift weights because they do not want to become bulky, primarily if you have achieved your desired body shape through running. Still, weight training can do wonders for preventing and injury. Reinforcing your ab muscles and back muscles can make it easier to maintain the proper position to run in, and it can delay the feeling of muscle fatigue.

Cycling: Because you are primarily using your legs and continuously in a sitting position while cycling, you can go faster while exerting less energy than running. This type of exercise aids you to work on your cardiovascular health and burn calories while still allowing yourself to rest.

Yoga: A large part of running comes from being able to control your mind and push yourself well beyond the point you thought you could. Yoga helps to stretch muscles, strengthen muscles, and govern your mind through breathing techniques. If practiced enough, yoga could be the key to achieving a goal that has felt impossible for so long.

Source: Foster, C., Hector, L.L., Welsh, R. et al. Effects of specific versus cross-training on running performance. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 70, 367–372 (1995).

Kuzma, C., 2020. Cross-Training To Make You A Stronger, Faster Runner | Livestrong.Com. [online] LIVESTRONG.COM. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 September 2020].

Disclaimer: I’m not a fitness expert, medical doctor or registered dietician. This blog is solely to share my experiences in running, fitness and nutrition. In regards to your health, please do your own study and exploration. Everything I share here comes from personal experiences, knowledge gained from sources, and is based off my own lifestyle. If you are in need of specific advice in any of these areas, please contact your own health professional.


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