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Cross Training for Runners

Pragya T Aug 19, 2020
Cross training for runners provides many benefits, and helps the runner to build better endurance for marathons and other races.
Cross training has been used by athletes since a long time. It has many health benefits, and by forming an exercise routine that helps in strengthening the leg muscles and building up endurance will help to run better and faster. However, one needs to be careful while selecting cross training exercises and forming an exercise program.
One needs to select workouts which are closest to running, which means workouts that involve leg muscles. Some good options include exercising on elliptical trainer, stationary bikes, cross-country skiing machines, and water jogging. Make sure you keep your heart rate under check regularly, because an elevated morning heart rate is a sign of over training.


  • Cross training helps in reducing the amount of injuries. Adding another running workout to your already existing running schedule might be too taxing for your body. Once you know how much mileage per week you can handle, add the rest of the workout with cross training exercises. This will reduce the possibility of a nasty injury.
  • It greatly helps in preventing boredom. Doing running workouts everyday can become monotonous and boring.
  • Apart from having great leg muscles, one needs to work out on their upper body as well. Though this might not make you a fast runner, it will definitely make you well-built by balancing your muscle groups.
  • It is a healthier and more fun exercise. It will keep your body and mind more fit.
  • Using these workouts, you will maintain an even better cardiovascular fitness.


Here are some cardiovascular exercises and non-cardio exercises, out of which you can choose the exercises you are most comfortable with and add them to your weekly exercise schedule.

Cardiovascular Exercises

Cycling, swimming, water aerobics, and elliptical machine training are some of the exercises that you can add to your weekly exercise schedule. Swimming and water aerobics are low-impact cardiovascular exercises. Swimming is a full body workout, while water aerobics/running will help you to train and increase endurance of your leg muscles.
Studies show that cycling on a stationary bike at low tension can help run better. Elliptical machines also provide a full body workout, they also help to build arm and chest muscles, and help to work out on your legs with reduced possibility of any injuries. You can also include walking in your exercise routine to build endurance.

Non-cardiovascular Exercises

Examples of such exercises include weightlifting, Pilates exercises, and core conditioning. A study shows that weight training helps in improving running economy. Weight training helps in improvement of oxygen use, this means one can run faster with the same oxygen uptake. Pilates is a form of exercise that emphasizes balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility, and awareness.