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4 Great Forms of Cross-Training for Runners

With peak marathon season coming to a close, many runners will scale back on the miles and look for other ways to stay active during winter, especially if they live in a chilly climate in which running outdoors isn’t ideal. Sure, runners can hop on a treadmill and log some STRIDE GO workouts during the next few months, but the off-season is a great time to cross-train and experience new workouts that can ultimately improve running performance. Check out a few suggestions of cross-training workouts for runners below, recommended by the XPRO team.

 

Rowing

Running can put a lot of wear and tear on your body, especially if you’re doing a marathon that involves 15+ mile training runs. Caley Crawford, XPRO for Row House GO, says rowing is an ideal form of cross-training for runners because it’s low impact, so it won’t add to that wear and tear. Plus rowing recruits 85% of your body’s muscles, so not only does it lift the heart rate and help you maintain your cardiovascular endurance, but it builds strength, especially in the legs which drive 60% of each stroke. Each stroke on the rower also requires an extensive range of motion, so it can help runners improve their hip and ankle mobility for a better stride on the race course.


Pilates

Most devout runners love their sport so much, that’s the only form of fitness they practice. However, if you only run for physical activity, you are neglecting to train a lot of muscles that actually play an important role in running technique. Pilates can be an excellent form of cross-training to fill in the gaps, according to Allyson Gottfried, XPRO for Club Pilates GO. Pilates, particularly when done on the Reformer, involves lots of controlled, precise movements that target oft-neglected muscles. Pilates focuses heavily on the core muscles, which are integral to strong posture and rotation while running. The mind-body benefits of Pilates can also help marathon runners overcome the mental wall they often hit around mile 20 on race day.


Dance

Running takes place along one forward plane of motion, but it’s important for runners to train laterally and in other directions in order to prevent injury and be prepared for obstacles on the race course. This is where dance fitness can come in handy. Stacey Zielinski, XPRO for AKT GO, believes more runners should integrate dancing into their fitness routines because it gets them moving across different planes of motion, and the use of upper and lower body for a lot moves can help improve coordination and muscle tone.


Indoor Cycling

Cycling is often a natural fit for runners since it involves heavy cardio and leaves you drenched in sweat. Stevie Vladic, XPRO for CycleBar GO, notes that indoor cycling is an optimal cross-training exercise for runners because it helps build strength in the glutes, hips and legs. This improved strength can help improve runners’ power in each stride and prevent injuries in the knees and hips, two of the most common problem areas for avid runners. Last but not least, during every indoor cycling class, chances are that runners will hear a song or two they can steal for their own race day playlist!


This off-season, be sure to check out one or all of these workouts so you can return to next year’s running season stronger than ever. And of course, don’t forget to stretch!