Best Cross Training for Runners

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Cross Training is not something that people always think of when training for Marathons or Ultra Marathons. A lot of people historically have mainly done it when they have been injured or cannot run.

But it has been shown over the past few years that it’s not always helpful to just run, run and run. A well balanced training regimen to target running and cross training can result in less injury and better performance.

Here are a few examples of Cross Training that can be incorporated into your routine.


The good old rowing machine. If you have ever used one then you know what I’m talking about here. If done correctly then rowing will target more muscles than a lot of other activities. If your unsure of the technique then look at some YouTube videos. You should have a straight back, core engaged, pull the oar to chest and control the back and forth movement.

It’s a great overall strength builder from your quads to hamstrings to core to shoulders. Plus it’s a great fat burner. The only downside is your backside might ache, but it’s only pain.

There are many session examples from:

10 minute warm up

2 minute high intensity x5

2 minute low intensity x5

10 minute cool down


5 minute warm up

10 minute row

20 bodyweight squats

8 minute row

20 press ups

6 minute row

40 press ups

4 minute row

40 bodyweight squats

5 minute cool down

Strength Training (Kettlebell)

I think strength training is top of the pile for me. Why? Because assuming you have your cardio nailed, your nutrition sorted, the only thing that is going to be happening toward the end of a long race is your body wanting to give in. You will be aching and your muscles will be tired and your joints are going to be sore. The likelihood is that your running form will deteriorate, you will slow down and you may be more likely to get injured. Doing strength training is only going to strengthen those weaker areas and you should see huge gains in the latter stages of races as your form and posture stays as it should.

So why do I use Kettlebells for strength training. There are a few reasons:

  1. They are a workout anywhere piece of equipment
  2. They don’t cost as much as a gym subscription
  3. They combine Cardio and Strength – and I mean serious cardio
  4. Different to Dumbells and Barbells – The off centered weight of a KB recruits more stabilizer muscles and works the targeted muscles through a wider range of motion.
  5. Kettlebell training consists of whole body movement exercises
  6. Helps build mobility

You get the picture. I need to do a post on Kettlebell benefits and Workouts as it is so varied.


What can I say – this is a beast of a workout. I would definitely recommend if your training for a hilly race. You will reap the rewards after using this.


Elliptical Trainer

The most important aspect of using an elliptical trainer is the reduction of impact. It also will help stregthen hamstrings and glutes in no time.

It is a full body workout but focuses more on your running muscles and your going to sweat.

A good sample workout would be 20 minutes bike, 20 minutes elliptical and 20 minutes stepper – I don’t need to tell you how your legs are going to feel after that.



So there are a few examples of cross training for runners. My personal favourites are Kettlebell strength and conditioning, Rowing and the Stepper. They just work for me and I love them, which ultimately helps.

What are your favourite cross training methods? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Happy training.

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