Top 4 Reasons Why Every Runner Should Cross-Train

I have a super fun guest post for you guys today! Something I need to incorporate into my own training and life… Enjoy and HAPPY FRIDAY! 🙂

I’m sure you’ve heard about cross training before, but do you actually know what cross training is? Well, if you want to know the exact definition, Runner’s World defines as a training that “combines exercises, disciplines, different than that of the athlete in training.”

Under this definition, you have forms of training that are tremendously important for your body like strength training that actually don’t qualify as core training, simply because they don’t fall under the umbrella of aerobic training.

Why Athletes Cross Train at All?

The reason behind this is quite simple – your cardiovascular system doesn’t care what do you do it do get in shape. So naturally, anything that’ll cause an adaptation response in your system (whether you’re running on the road or exercising in the gym) will prepare for a long-distance race.

Furthermore, active cross training enables people to have big cardio workouts without wearing and tearing their bodies. And as a result, cross training helps athletes build a solid cardio base quicker that can be accomplished by running alone.

And if that’s not enough, you need to keep in mind that running trauma leaves your muscles more susceptible to different injuries.  Cross training will allow you to avoid these potential injuries and leave you less sore the following day.

And while cross training involves certain lifestyle changes – including some dietary changes that require careful timing and meal prep – as you’re about to see, the numerous advantages are so great that you’ll definitely realize that cross training should be a part of your training program.


Four Reasons Why Runners Should Cross-Train

1.      Injury Prevention

Most running injuries are caused by instability in runner’s ankles, knees and hips as a result from lack of strength in important muscles. Thankfully, careful strength training can help you correct this problem and prevent possible injuries. Also, stretching exercises could loosen some tight tissues and prevent things like iliotibial band friction syndrome.

2.      Quick Recovery

When an athlete gets injured, cross training is always there to help him correct the root cause of the problem, by allowing him to get back to the road as quick as possible. Moreover, it will also reduce the risk of re-injury. So in a case you get injured and replace a number of runs with something like a bike workout, you’ll be able to build enough fitness to compete in an upcoming race.

3.      Aerobic Fitness

You are aware that even the most gifted and enduring runners can handle around 15 to 16 hours of running per week. And that’s the best case scenario – most runners can only handle around 12 hours. However, non-impact endurance sports like cycling and swimming allow you to train up to 30 hours every week. So if you add any of these sports to your program, you’ll be able to add additional aerobic fitness without risking any injuries.

4.      Additional Power

Last but not least, one of the more talked-about benefits of strength training (such as jumping drills) is a huge increase in stride power that naturally translates into greater stride length. This will allow you to reduce your ground contact time and have faster race rimes.


Final Thoughts

Luckily, there’s a ton of different cross-training options out there to choose from. Furthermore, if you’re worried about any unwanted side effects of cross training, just to talk to a couple of coaches, and you’ll see that most of them agree that the benefits greatly outweigh any perceived downsides of cross training.

And there you have it; those are just some of the reasons why every runner should include some aspect of cross training in their workouts. What do you think about our list? Do you feel like we left out some important reasons? If you have anything to add, make sure to leave a comment in the section bellow and share your thoughts with the rest of us. By Vanessa Davis


Vanessa Davis is a 32-year-old fitness enthusiast, mother of two and content writer at She’s originally from Long Island, New York, and when she isn’t cooking up some new health and fitness article, she enjoys doing yoga and figuring out new, delicious organic-based recipes for herself and her kids.



Linking up with Running on Happy & Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup!

This article has 10 comments

  1. I think cross training and strength training are so important to a healthy routine, but are under utilized. Some of my favorites are easy spinning, hiking, yoga and weight lifting. I often find that if I’m short on time doing a quick session with weights is a better use of my time instead of just running a couple miles. Great post!

    • Totally agree with the short round of weights vs 2 miles or so. I can work up more of a sweat and feel more accomplished with 15 minutes of weights vs 15 min of running.

    • Same here! This was a good reminder. I get so encompassed in running, I neglect the other “things.”

  2. Totally agree with all of your points! I think that it’s so important to get in strength training when training for a race. I have to do strength training in order to prevent injuries.

    • I definitely notice a difference when I do weights. Benefits me SO much. I MUST make more time for it!

  3. YES to cross-training! I figured this out kind of on my own when I wanted to do other “fitness things” on my non-running days….I’m glad I was on to something LOL

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