What’s Included?

  • What are the benefits of cross-training?
  • What types of cross-training should runners do?
  • How much should you do?
  • Do’s and do not’s of cross-training

What Are the Benefits?

There are endless ways to incorporate cross-training – and endless types to explore! A solid cross-training routine can help you get to new levels of running (and fitness in general) by…

Improving Strength

When you cross-train, you’re typically using new and/or different muscle groups than you use while running, which helps to strengthen and challenge those different muscles in new and beneficial ways.

Improving Stability & Balance

Cross-training makes you a more balanced runner in general because it challenges you to work on deficiencies and/or weaknesses that you otherwise wouldn’t be targeting.

Reduce the Risk of Injury

Improving Fitness & Cardio

Giving you a break from JUST running & an opportunity to have some fun with other forms of movement

What Types Should We Do?

Sooooo… now we know that cross-training is important – but what types should we do? It’s true that some forms of cross-training are more or less beneficial for us as runners – and some forms are better for certain individuals than others. This is because we each have unique needs, challenges, and deficiencies. Some of us may need to work on strength, some of us may need to build our fitness and cardio endurance base, some of us may need to work on balance and stability – some of us might need ALL of it. When it comes to what TYPE of cross training is right for you, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is the PURPOSE?
  • What do you ENJOY?
  • What BENEFITS are you seeking?
  • HOW will this support your running or your goals?


  • STRENGTH TRAINING & WEIGHT LIFTING: Reduces injury risk, improves strength, improves running efficiency, improves endurance, and much more!
  • SWIMMING: Low impact, increases cardio endurance, reduces injury risk, builds strength
  • CYCLING: Builds cardio, builds strength, builds balance and stability, builds mobility
  • YOGA: Builds balance, stability, strength, and reduces the risk of injury
  • ELLIPTICAL: Builds form, builds cardio endurance, is low impact
  • WALKING: Builds cardio endurance, low impact

ADDITIONAL FORMS (still have benefits, of course):

  • GOLF

How MUCH To Do?

How MUCH cross-training you incorporate really should be dependent upon your goals and your needs – and what you enjoy! In general, it’s recommended to incorporate cross-training sessions 2-3 times per week – with an emphasis on strength training for at least 1-2 of those. The more IMPACT that an activity has (strength training), the LESS that you can likely handle safely. The LESS impact an activity has (walking), the MORE that you can handle safely.



  • Do have a regular cross-training schedule (2-3 days each week)
  • Do start slow and easy with your cross-training activities
  • Do pick activities that support your running goals & interests
  • Do try to tailor your cross-training to your running schedule: Incorporate LOWER impact activities like walking and yoga after harder workouts and runs and incorporate HIGHER impact activities like STRENGTH TRAINING on days where you will have ample recovery time (before an easy run or rest day vs before a long run or harder workout day). Make sure the WHEN makes sense.
  • Adjust the type and amount of cross-training that you do in accordance with your needs (if you have a race coming up this weekend, you will likely want to pull back on all cross-training and incorporate only lower impact types)


  • Do not incorporate cross-training in excessive amounts (ALL impact that you put on your body will add up)
  • Do not incorporate high-impact activities (strength training) the day before long runs or hard workouts
  • Do not start too fast with any certain type of cross-training – you need to build up the strength to do ANY type of movement and exercise, so make sure to start slow!

Amy Haas
Run with Aim, LLC
UESCA Certified Running Coach
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach