Cross Training: Best Alternative Exercise For Runners

Woman Running On Track

Running is widely considered one of the best cardiovascular exercises. Running helps people get in shape, lose weight, and relieve stress. Despite the multiple benefits that running offers, running can often cause injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and stress fractures. There are several steps that runners can take to help prevent injury, including proper warm ups, stretching, and strength training to improve weak muscles. One of the most important steps that runners can take to prevent injury is cross training.

What is Cross-Training and Why is it Important?
For athletes who participate in a single sport, cross training means training or participating in a different sport than your primary sport. For the more casual gym-goer, cross training entails engaging in a wide variety of exercises that target different muscle groups to improve overall fitness. A widely held belief among fitness enthusiasts is that focusing primarily on the muscles groups used in a sport is the best way to improve performance in that sport. As a result of this belief, athletes who want to be better performers will tend to focus their efforts on strengthening muscles or performing exercises that will help them in their sport of choice. For runners, this means focusing on exercises to strengthen the muscles in their lower body, such as their quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. While some training is beneficial, over-training can cause injury. Cross training can help reduce the potential for injury.

Cross-Training Exercises for Runners
There are numerous cross-training exercises that runners can use to prevent injuries and improve their overall fitness level. Presented below are several suggested exercises that runners should consider adding to their fitness regime.



Cycling is a great complement to running. Cycling is a high-intensity sport that improves cardiovascular fitness, stamina, and builds lower-body muscles without the high impact on joints that running can have. Cycling can also be a great go-to when the weather gets cold as an alternative to running on a treadmill.



Swimming is another low-impact, high-intensity sport that can be beneficial to runners. In contrast to running, swimming incorporates the full body, and can help build upper body muscle and strengthen the core.

Pool Running


Pool running allows runners to replicate running in a low-impact setting. Pool running allows runners to focus on their form and technique, without the risk of overtraining or injury. To get the most out of pool running, runners should focus on interval training, alternating periods of high intensity, with periods of low intensity or rest.

Running always carries the risk of injury. Cross training can be very helpful for preventing injury, and improving performance. If you do get injured while running, it is important to consider supplementing your cross-training activities with other methods to relieve pain. If you experience muscle soreness, try a massage therapist who can help relieve your muscle soreness. If you experience back, shoulder, or neck pain Boise has chiropractors that can help relieve your pain, and get you running again. Running injuries do not have to be a fact of life. There are steps that runners can take to both prevent injuries, as well as address injuries when they arise.