6 Running Experts on the Benefits of Cross-Training

Cross-Train Tip No.4: Boost Your Flexibility
Judi Ketteler

"Yoga and Pilates build core strength, mental focus, balance—and perhaps most important for runners—flexibility. But in our attempt to loosen our hamstrings, calves, and hips, we can push ourselves too far and end up with a strained muscle or joint. Start with a beginner's class, or find an instructor who offers modified poses.

"'It's better to practice a beginner's version with good form than an advanced pose with bad form,' says Wendy Puckett, a marathoner and owner of Steamboat Pilates in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Tell your instructor that you're a runner and whether you have any chronic injuries. They could show you how to use yoga blocks or straps to help you ease into positions.

"Runners are conditioned to run through discomfort, but if you feel pain, back off. Recognize your body's limits and have realistic expectations."

More: Cross-Train Tips from Judi Ketteler

Cross-Train Tip No.5: Avoid the Pounding
Matt Russ

"One of the benefits that multi-sport athletes have over runners is that they are able to perform swim and cycling workouts in between run workouts. This helps reduce the stress caused by the pounding of running, but the athlete still receives the aerobic benefit of training. Cross training is good for active recovery which helps speed the recovery process.

"If you use a heart rate monitor you can stay in the same heart rate zone as your run workout. Swimming, cycling, using the stepper, elliptical trainer, or even hiking are all good examples of cross-training workouts.ll work with too steep of an incline.

"With the treadmill, you can increase the incline slightly each week and the resistance is constant. That being said, many athletes find it difficult to stay focused on a treadmill. It's important to include runs on varied terrain and downhill. The treadmill doesn't provide this. As you get closer to your goal race, I recommend trying to duplicate the race course and spend less time on the treadmill."

More: Cross-Train Tips From Matt Russ

Cross-Train Tip No.6: Pick Your Spots
Josh Clark

Of course running is always the best training for the runner, but it's also wise to remember that running is not the be-all and end-all of fitness.

Other sports can improve muscular fitness in those neglected areas while also maintaining your aerobic fitness. While you can pursue a weight-training program to address the muscle groups of your choice, you can also target specific muscle groups by choosing the right cross-training exercises:

Quadriceps

  • Biking
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Rowing
  • Swimming
  • Stair climbing
  • Skating
  • Snowshoeing
  • Water running

Buttocks

  • Cross-country skiing
  • Rowing
  • Swimming

Abdominals

  • Cross-country skiing
  • Rowing
  • Swimming
  • Water running

Lower Back

  • Rowing
  • Swimming

Upper Body

  • Cross-country skiing
  • Rowing
  • Swimming
  • Water running

More: Cross-Train Tips from Josh Clark

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