We have recently sparked a friendly discussion about cross-training on our Facebook Group page. How many of us really do it and are consistent with it? What are the benefits of cross-training for runners?

Matt Fitzgerald points out in his Runner’s World article, Eight Benefits Of Cross-Training

“If you ask ten other runners to name a benefit of cross-training, at least eight of them will mention injury prevention.”

As expected, the most important benefit of cross-training is overuse injury prevention. It is by far the most widely recognized perk of cross-training among runners but hardly the only one. Cross-training can help you with everything from busting out of workout boredom to nailing your next PR. 

Cross-training has been a very loosely used term for randomized training modalities — both high and low intensity — for decades,” says Heidi Powell, personal trainer. 

In addition, incorporating various workouts to the mix rather than sticking to your solo runs bumps up just about every aspect of your fitness. However, it is a tough sell to many runners because running is what we love to do the most. Sometimes running, as the primary sport, is the only activity that fits reasonably into our busy schedules. Conversely, your love of running can be the very thing that motivates you to begin cross-training, once you realize all the benefits. Cross-training can increase strength, power, speed, endurance, agility, and balance. All of the above translates across all sports, not just running, and into your everyday life. 

The eight benefits of cross-training according to Matt Fitzgerald

  • Injury Prevention 
  • Rehabilitation
  • Greater running fitness
  • Active recovery
  • Enhanced motivation
  • Rejuvenation
  • Enjoying other sports
  • Fit pregnancy

Your favorite ways to cross-train

We created a poll and asked for your input on your favorite ways to cross-train. This is what you shared with us by selecting multiple options from the list:

  • Strength training comes in as an overall winner, with the majority of you specifying strength training as a form of cross-training.
  • Hiking and walking doesn’t fall far behind.
  • Cycling is another favorite form of cross-training.
  • Yoga falls somewhere in the middle.
  • Some people indicated being partial to rowing.
  • Swimming, Zumba, and P90X also made the cut as alternative means to cross-train but were towards the bottom of the list of selected options. 

Barb Meely hiking at Lindy Point Overlook near Davis, WV.

On a final note, as WebMD’s Dr. Michael Smith puts it, 

“One of the most common mistakes people make with exercise is repeating the same routine week after week. To continue to improve your fitness level and reap all the benefits of regular exercise, you need to keep your body guessing. Cross training does this for you.”

Here’s to happy running, cross-training, and staying healthy!