Cross Training for Improved Performance

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Pixmac000069033501When preparing for a race it is easy to get consumed by running the miles necessary to build endurance. However, the muscles that are not directly used during the act of running are still very important to provide the support necessary to finish the race.

The winter months are a perfect time to build strength! Learn why cross training is so beneficial and a few different cross training workouts you can incorporate into your running routine.


Cross-training for Improved Performance

When it comes to training schedules, most people can’t get enough. They have spreadsheets and graphs tracking each workout. However, there is little thought or effort put into cross-training. The number of cross-training workouts will vary depending on your training goals and volume, but one cross-training session per week is a good baseline.

Scheduling low-intensity cross-training workouts into your routine will assist with muscle recovery. Cross-training will help the body with the removal of lactate from the muscles, while increasing the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Additionally, planning a low impact workout that features activities that you enjoy will help keep your body and mind fresh.

Cross Training Workouts

Kettlebell Training

Kettlebell training encompasses elements of strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, core strengthening, and dynamic flexibility into one workout. Improvements in core strength and explosive hip drive will translate directly to improvements in an athlete’s ability to train harder, longer.


Head to an indoor cycling or spin class at your local fitness center to lessen impact on the knees and ankles, providing your body with a break from the impact and overuse injuries associated with running. To get started find the schedule for spin classes at your local gym. Go prepared with a bottle of water and a towel. Arrive to your first class a little early to be sure you get a proper fit on the bike.

Recreational Activities

For the “serious” runners out there, replacing a training run with indoor soccer, pick-up basketball, or swimming might sound crazy, but these activities might be more challenging then you think. You will be performing intervals (start and stop during soccer and basketball), plyometrics (jumping and lateral movement in basketball), and recruiting different muscles and energy systems (while swimming) than you are accustomed to. Recreation means fun and there is no reason your training can not be enjoyable.Use a cross-training workout to give your body and mind a break from the demands rigid training plan.

Foam Roll and Self-Massage

With a foam roller you can enjoy the benefits of a sports massage without the hefty price tag. A type of myofascial release, foam rolling allows you to target specific body parts, knots, and trigger points to breakup scar tissue and fascia that has compromised muscular function.

Many thanks to Joe Vennare from Hybrid Athlete for providing us with such a thorough guide to cross training.

What are your favorite cross training workouts and how often do you incorporate them into your running routine?

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