Cross Training Ideas.

A major part of running endurance training is using cross training to complement your running. Many training plans specifically denote days to incorporate cross training, usually 1 or 2 days a week that there is to be NO running, only alternate activities like swimming or biking to give your body a break from running. As much as I LOVE running, I really like cross training days because it gives me a chance to do different forms of cardio or strength that I don’t get to do when I am strictly running. The only problem is that I usually get running-jealousy when I get to the gym and see people running on the treadmills or sprinting around the track.

You can probably guess that my favourite cross training activity is SPIN! I started indoor cycling last year and has such a great time that it has become a part of my weekly fitness routine and I even got my spin certification to start teaching classes soon. Spin is ALWAYS a great workout for me and I leave each and every class super sweaty with a big smile on my face. It is a major leg workout so I try not to do spin cross training when I have a hard run the next day. When the snow melts in the spring I can’t wait to get out on my new road bike and take my cycling cross training outdoors too! 

If I want a major butt workout – I do STAIRS to cross train! There is a stepper/stairmaster machine at my gym that I love and it is one of the hardest forms of cardio for me besides running. The trick is to try and keep your hands off of the railings or at least make sure you aren’t holding onto them with a death grip. The less you are using your arms to hold you up and climb the stairs, the more you use your legs and glutes! Runners World even says that stair-climbing is good for runners

It takes a lot of motivation for my to put on a bathing suit in the middle of winter and hop into the cold water at the pool, but SWIMMING is one of the BEST forms of cross training for runners because it is virtually zero impact and gives our bodies a major break from muscle stress. Whether you are swimming laps or attempting water running, being in the water is some great cardio!

It might not get your heart rate up as much as other cross training activities, but STRENGTH TRAINING is pretty awesome for runners. Making our bodies stronger will certainly benefit us and probably help us run faster and farther. Core strength is certainly underestimated for runners. We use our cores without even realizing it and if we don’t have strong core muscles it’s going to be a lot harder to keep proper running form! We all want to lie on the ground when we are finished our runs, so why not do a minute of bicycle crunches or plank while we are down there? Lifting weights also gives me an obnoxiously big boost of confidence about my muscle strength… or lack there of. Note: I had far too many photos of me trying to flex to choose from. 

Other really awesome cross training ideas are rowing (but only go with a friend because it is incredibly boring ;), walking, or ellipticing ellipticizing ellipticalling using the elliptical. Once the weather is a bit nicer here in Alberta, the list of cross training ideas grows even more with things like road cycling, roller-blading, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking!

On my training schedule today it was a cross training day (hence why I am talking all about it in this post) and I did a cardio and ab circuit at the gym. I wanted to do an hour of cardio but spending an hour on either the elliptical or the stair master would be torture (the treadmill is a different story – an hour on that baby would be glorious) so I split up my time on each and did 15 minute intervals. 

Cross Training Cardio Circuit

15 minutes elliptical.

Ab Circuit:
15 crunches
10 crunches with straight leg (L)
10 crunches with straight leg (R)
10 crunches
16 scissor crosses
12 dead bug crunches
30 seconds side plank, each side

15 minutes stairmaster.

Ab Circuit.

15 minutes elliptical.

Ab Circuit.

15 minutes stairmaster.

Ab Circuit X 2.

I got a little bit of running-jealousy today when I saw a fellow gym-goer doing one of her marathon training runs on the treadmill. I just pretended I was running on the elliptical. When I got home I made my new breakfast favourite. I used to think vegetables for breakfast would be the weirdest thing ever but it turns out they are just as delicious in the morning as they are at any other time of the day. 

What is YOUR favourite type of cross training?


  1. Have I told you I love your swimsuit!?
    I’m seriously considering buying a kayak this summer – our lake is perfect for kayaking and I can’t think of a better way to get out and enjoy the lake first thing in the morning 🙂

  2. I get runner’s envy real bad if I’m resting and see others running. How dare they? 😉 LOL.

    Strength training and riding a bike (outdoors) are my favourite 2 non-running activities. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like I’ll be biking any time soon here in Nova Scotia!

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