Tuesdays on the Run: Cross-Training

Erika @ MCM Mama Runs hosts Tuesdays on the Run with April @ Run the great wide somewhere and Patty @ My no-guilt life!

This week’s topic is: Cross-Training


What is Cross-Training?

According to Acefitness.org, “Cross training is typically defined as an exercise regimen that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness.”

All half marathon and marathon training schedules include at least one day of cross-training.
What are the benefits of cross-training?
  • Reduced risk of injury People who are particularly prone to lower-leg problems from running long distances should consider incorporating low-impact activities such as elliptical training, cycling and swimming into their regimens.
  • Enhanced weight loss  people who need to lose weight can effectively achieve a reduction in body weight and fat stores by combining two or more physical activities in a cross-training regimen. They can, for example, exercise on an elliptical trainer for 20 to 30 minutes and then cycle for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Improved total fitness –  Cross-training can include activities that develop muscular fitness, as well as aerobic conditioning.
  • Enhanced exercise adherence – Cross-training is a safe and relatively easy way to add variety to an exercise program.

Another benefit of Cross-Training is that you can explore different kinds of sports. Although, you are a runner, you may find that you enjoy biking or swimming. Also when you cannot run due to an injury, you can still cross-train. When I broke my ankle, I could not run but I was able to bike and use the elliptical.

What activities are considered cross-training?
1. Cycling – According to scientific studies, runners benefit the most from cycling.
(I have only biked when I was UNABLE to run. I should do it more but who has the time.)

2. Resistance Training –  Recent studies have linked resistance training with improvement in running, reducing heart rates while doing so, and improving race times at distances from shorter runs to marathons.  It also protects runners against lower body injuries, and circuit training provides a great cardiovascular workout, and increasing muscle power.  The gym is the best place to do this, with the help of Personal Trainers.
Unfortunately I do not belong to a gym and the closest thing I have done is using these resistance bands (when I was recovering from an injury.)

red in pt & yellow at home

3. Swimming – It is an activity that is easy on the joints, supports your weight, builds muscular strength and endurance, improves cardiovascular health. It is also good for the lungs because of the breathing exercises you have to do while performing the activity. For runners who have sore legs, this is most recommended since it’s low impact, and it surprisingly burns a lot of calories.

I wish I were a better swimmer but I am not (and I do not have access to a pool.)
pooped after the race

my version of lake swimming

4 . Aerobic Exercises – It provides an outstanding cardiovascular workout, boosts quadriceps and hamstring strength, improves coordination, and can make runners quicker on their feet. In addition, the upper-body movements used in aerobic dance may even tone up runners’ torsos a bit. Zumba is pretty popular and there are many videos with aerobic exercises/dancing.
When I was younger, aerobics classes were popular & used go to them.  Zumba is something I want to try.
5. Other sports like Tennis, Soccer, or even Golf can also be considered as Cross-Training activities, as long as it benefits you in burning calories, toning muscles, building stamina, endurance.
I love to play tennis (tried golf but I stink at it.) and play doubles at least once per week.

playing tennis

Tips for Cross-Training:

1. Choose what you like – Try several things to decide what’s beneficial and best for you. Also consider your resources like time, money and energy.

2. Start slowEven if you are an experienced runner it doesn’t mean that you are already good at another activity or sport. Start at the beginner’s level of any sport or activity that you will engage into.

3. Do not strain yourself –  Try to stick with your training days but use a cross-training activity as an alternative on some days not allotted for running.

4. Chose the ones that will not use the muscles that you use during runningthat is why I do not play tennis and run on the same day (they both can strain your calf muscles) but I may do yoga after running.

5. Hydrate & Eat Well – Always make sure you hydrate yourself well especially if you sweat too much. Always eat healthy food. Avoid junk food and foods that are high in salt and fats. Try to eat more carbohydrates before exercise and protein after.

5. Have Fun! – You should always enjoy what you do because if not, you will not keep it up.

Happy Running!  Do you Cross-train?  What do you do as Cross-training?



5 thoughts on “Tuesdays on the Run: Cross-Training

  1. I love to swim, but don’t have access to a pool – hoping to change that soon!

    I do weight train. I need it to lift 40 lb bags of cat litter. 🙂

    I enjoy Zumba-type workouts & try to get a few in a week – very short ones, usually.

    And, of course, there’s walking every day with the dogs.


  2. I love your lake swimming photo! I did Zumba for a while before I started running and I loved it! It was so much fun and the hour just flew by, but all that jumping tweaked my plantar fasciiatis and I had to give it up. Bike riding is a ton of fun, but only outdoors…exercise bikes in gyms are just soooooo boring! Thanks for linking up with us today!


  3. Great tips, especially #1. I started strength training for injury rehab, but now I really like to do. That and cycling are my main cross training activities.


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