Cross Training Benefits

By Alyssa Smith
Fleet Feet Sports, Gaithersburg Marathon Coordinator

There are many benefits to cross training and here are some of them. 

1) Injury Prevention -- If you are a relatively new runner, you can get benefits from endurance cross training that will prevent injuries. Your ankles, knees and lower back aren't used to the repetitive impact of running, so you can use elliptical machines, stationary bikes, weight machines, swimming, and other low-impact conditioning tools to improve endurance without up beating up your most vulnerable joints, muscles and connective tissues. 

2) Greater Running Fitness -- Cross training is a reliable means to become a faster runner. It can enhance a runner's efficiency, increase a runner's power and increase the amount of time a runner is able to spend training without accumulating fatigue or getting injured. 

3) Active Recovery -- Periods of rest are essential but a runner who performs active recovery workouts between most pairs of key workouts will become fitter than the runner who does not. Light workouts accelerate recovery beyond just outright rest just slightly increasing the body's need for recovery. 

4) Enhanced Motivation -- No matter how much passion you have for running, if you do it often enough or with constant repetition of routes/routines, it will become somewhat boring. Cross training helps you maintain your enthusiasm for the sport. 

5) Enjoying Other Sports -- Endurance can be transferred to other activities. The strong heart and good lungs that serve you well as a runner can serve you equally well in swimming, bicycling, skating, cross-country skiing and other endurance sports. Try other activities and you may enjoy the experience and do well. Training for and competing in a second endurance sport could help you enjoy running more and even run better. You will never know unless you try !! 

So, go out there and cross train !!! 

Cross Training Equivalents 

Lap Swimming:  
1 mile of swimming = 4 miles of running 

Deep Water Running:  
Even Exchange 

3 miles of outdoor cycling = 1 mile of running  
10 minutes of indoor cycling = 1 mile of running 

2 miles of rowing = 1 mile of running 

15 minutes of Elliptical=1 mile of running 

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