5 Options for Cross Training

The best way to get better at running is to run. But it also helps to supplement your training with other types of workouts to keep well-rounded to prevent injuries or burnout.

Weight Training. This was the primary supplement to running when I was in school, usually just the basics of curls, bench press, shoulder press and lateral pulls, three sets of 8-12. I have maintained variations of this routine practically my whole life.

Calisthenics. A great option for those who don't have access to a gym, it can serve as a supplement on alternate days to incorporate into your stretching routine with simple push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups, or be a complete workout involving lunges, crunches, jumps, squats, calf-raises and planks, which are effective at building core strength, which is important for running. Popular commercial workout programs such as Insanity focus on calisthenics.

Yoga. Try out a beginner's yoga class and you'll eventually find yourself with much-improved flexibility, balance and strengthen muscles you didn't know existed.

Pilates. Physical therapists often use pilates techniques, because it'so effective at building flexibility, strength and endurance. Like yoga, you can take a class or follow along with a video.

Biking & Swimming. The next most popular endurance sports after running, and two-thirds of the popular triathlon. Biking can be a lot of fun, especially if you have scenic routes and interesting destinations. The summer after my first year of college I worked two jobs and had no time to run, but by commuting on my bike (and pushing it pretty hard) I was able to get enough aerobic training that I was able to run sub-6 minute pace in cross country races after just a couple weeks of running. Swimming is one of the best low-impact sports.  Our entire track team went to the pool when many were feeling a bit banged up. This included a pool workout where you just run in place in the deep end. Some used flotation jackets, but the best runners could go without it for a 30-40 minute stretch. No easy feat!

What kind of cross training do you do?

Tony has been a runner for over three decades, competing in cross country and track in high school and college, and road races for various clubs. He's served as team captain for several Corporate Challenge teams at YMCA of the USA, and has informally coached many friends over the years.

Tags: Y, YMCA, Run, Running, Jog, fitness, cross training, calisthenics, strength training, weights, pilates, Yoga, biking, swimming

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