Everyday Cross Training for Runners

Guest Post By: StuftMama


I’m a huge fan of cross training. There are about a bazillion reasons why I love it and why I always encourage my clients, especially runners, to do it at least twice a week. A couple of the main reasons are because it gives your body a  break from the specific movement of running, it keeps things from getting too monotonous and boring and it helps runners build strength and avoid injury.

Aerobic cross-training can help your endurance while strength training helps runners develop a stronger core and create more of a balance between muscle groups. If all you do is run all the time, you’re getting the benefits, but you’re only strengthening running specific muscle groups.

Generally as runners when we get a chance to work out we choose to see how many miles we can fit in. A lot of the time we neglect to cross-train and/ or resistance train to help our overall running efforts.

Not only is cross training beneficial for many reasons for runners, but it also helps when runners get injured and need to keep up their fitness levels. I know this all too well from personal experience unfortunately and for the past few months have been relying on cross training to work on both my cardiovascular fitness and my strength.

I’m always looking for the option where you get the biggest benefits in the least amount of time. Not only are there a ton of options out there, but a lot of them can be done with relatively no equipment and can be done anywhere. It’s best to find an activity that fits your goals.

 Here’s a list of my favorite everyday cross training options for runners and their specific benefits:

My favorite cardiovascular workouts are spinning, the elliptical, the Stair Master and HIIT Training.

  • Spinning- Spinning is great because it’s low impact, but you can still reap cardiovascular benefits from doing hard intervals and really getting your heart rate up. You also increase leg strength while giving your body a break from the high impact of running.
  • The elliptical and the Stair Master are also low impact options that let you really get your sweat. Generally when I’m on one of these machines I do intervals to get the most of the workout. Pre-programmed intervals are a nice option since the machine does the timing and resistance work for you.

stregnth training













  •  HIIT Training- HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. I love this because it can be done anywhere and does not have to take a long time. Any kind of plyometric move where you use your own body weight as resistance will work. I personally love to do burpees, slow jumping jacks, plyometric lunges, mountain climbers and plank jacks.  These can be done on the floor or stepped up a notch on a BOSU ball.stregnth training 2











  • Resistance Training or Weight Training- Resistance training is key. There’s a lot of confusion though as some think you need to get inside the weight room in order to do it. I resistance train 3 times a week and do most of it just on my own with hand weights and resistance bands. I don’t generally go to the weight room because I feel like getting a full body workout to hit all major muscle groups take too long. I get antsy when waiting for machines to open up. Not to mention when you’re on a specific machine you really are only targeting those muscle groups. When you pick up some weights on your own and do any kind of combination move (like alternating lunges with bicep curls), you’re not only burning more calories, but also strengthening your core at the same time. Maintaining a strong core is essential for runners and helps avoid fatigue and keep proper form while running. Core exercises can be done anywhere. They can even be done in your front yard while your kids look for lizards (or whatever else they like to do).



Cross training is great to just switch things up a bit. We’ve all hit that running slump where we have a hard time getting back into training or are in a rut with our training. Cross training is a great option to keep your fitness levels up while trying out something new. Through the ups and the downs of this running journey, cross training has been a key component.



Kristin (STUFTmama) is a 3:17 marathoner who has completed 19 full marathons. She is an ACE certified group fitness instructor, personal trainer and physical education teacher. Her five year old twin boys keep her busy  and she blogs over at stuftmama.com .