How to Mix Up Your Running Routine With Cross-Training

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

Of all sports, swimming probably comes closest to providing the most all-over fitness. Deep-water running, stair-climbing and cross-country skiing are the closest to running in terms of muscle groups used and range of motion.

Cross-training for better running

If your goal is not to tone the muscles running misses but rather to build endurance and improve running performance, consider the following list. Borrowed from Running Research, it lists the top 10 cross-training activities for sharpening your running:

  • Biking
  • Weight training
  • Soccer
  • Water running
  • Stair climbing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Aerobic dance
  • Walking
  • Tennis, racquetball and squash
  • Swimming

More: 10 Long-Distance Running Blunders

Just be careful not to overdo it. Reduce your running to accomodate any new activities. Overtraining is overtraining, whether it's in one sport or a combination of them. Some of these activities may work muscle groups that you don't often use, or at least to a degree you're not used to. Ease into them gently and be sure to stretch beforehand. Just as you did when you first started running, be conservative and increase your effort gradually. As long as you keep this in mind, you can also consider cross-training days to be rest days for recovery from running. On the day after a race or a long run, try taking a spin on your bike or swimming a few laps instead of going on an easy run. Your aching muscles and joints will thank you for the break from their normal pounding.

More: 5 Key Stretches for Runners

Check out our info on specific sports:

Biking
Cross-country skiing
Inline skating
Racquet sports
Rowing
Snowshoeing
Stair climbing
Swimming
Walking
Water Running

More: Exercises to Increase Your Running Speed

About the Author

Be sure to check out our other articles for new runners, including what a runner's building blocks are, how to take your first steps as a runner, how to build your mileage and our running shoe guide.

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