Cross-Train To Get Fitter And Faster

Photos: David Clifford

Advance your fitness, build functional strength and improve your speed with these non-running workouts. 

When most runners hear the word “cross-training,” they think of various forms of non-running exercises doled out by coaches or physical therapists as “punishment” for being injured. The prevailing thought is: Why would I willingly partake in another form of aerobic exercise when I could be running more?

It turns out there are plenty of good reasons to cross-train. While many dedicated runners will cross-train only when injury forces them out of their running shoes, deliberately incorporating aerobic cross-training workouts into your training schedule can help you safely increase weekly training volume, build strength, enhance recovery and improve your overall athleticism.

Why? A well-placed cross-training session gives healthy runners a break from the pounding of running while still engaging the aerobic system and getting blood flowing through the muscles. Injury-prone runners who don’t respond well to heavy mileage can even replace some of their usual workouts with an equivalent cross-training session to maintain a high overall workload while minimizing the risk of getting injured.

RELATED: Why Runners Should Embrace Cross-Training

Over the following pages, we’ll take a look at the what, why and how of four highly effective forms of aerobic cross-training: water running, spinning, elliptical training and stair climbing. These four activities most closely resemble the mechanics and demands of running and serve as a great supplement to the miles put in during any week of training. If done one a regular basis, they can help you become a stronger, fitter and faster runner.

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