Cross-training to a runner can often mean anything but running. But if you’re aiming for a new personal record, the activities you choose should be performed to enhance your running.
Cross-training is a key component to any training plan, used to maintain aerobic endurance and stamina while giving your legs a break. While there isn’t a cross-training activity that is an exact swap for running, there are several that come close.
Remember, cross training is an aid, not a replacement, to running. But we want it to provide benefits in the same way so you feel prepared when race day arrives. Here are the best cross-training activities to add to your training plan.
Cycling1 of 5
Cycling can be a great way to cross train because it is complementary to the muscles you use while running. Cycling allows you to recover tired legs from a previous day's run and stay in an aerobic zone. It's best to go for rides that don't push you to your absolute limits. Be aware that this activity can impede your training plan if you over-do it.
Swimming2 of 5
Swimming is another great, low impact, low injury-rate sport that can be used to keep your muscles engaged when you aren't running. It also continues to help build your aerobic capacity and endurance. Not to mention, after a hard training run or race, it just feels good to be immersed in water.
Elliptical Machine3 of 5
This aerobic workout is good for cross training and mimics running without the impact. Some runners will use the elliptical almost exclusively while injured. It is worth using for cross-training during a training cycle to keep up aerobic endurance and give your running muscles a break.
Rowing4 of 5
Similar to running in cardiovascular efforts, rowing is an optimal activity to add in for cross-training days. It also provides a more full-body workout, but hits the leg muscles where runners need it most: the hips.