Incorporating Cross Training: A How-to Guide

May 1, 2018

Running expert Nate helps us understand the value of cross training

So you have your running and walking goals set for the upcoming season. You likely have a plan that lays out all of your running and walking days — so what else can you do to reach your goals?

Consider cross training. Cross training is any type of training that is not your main training discipline, but helps to supplement it. Great cross training for runners and walkers might include:
1. Biking – continued cardiovascular growth, but less shock and load to the body
2. Swimming or deep well running – same benefits as biking
3. Elliptical – has more of running motion than biking, along with offering cardio benefits
4. Strength training – Overall strength is overlooked by most adults and should become a regular part of one’s routine. Benefits include increased power, strength, stability and endurance.

There are other great cross training activities, but these are some of the most frequently used staples.

So when should you cross train? This answer will vary from person to person, but here are some guidelines to follow:
• If you want to incorporate more cardiovascular work but you have an issue that won’t allow you to run or walk more, then get on the bike or elliptical or head to the pool. 
• If you know that at a certain point in training you always end up with nagging aches and pains, then start proactively replacing one run or walk with a different type of cardio. 
• As mentioned earlier, everyone should be doing some sort of strength training.  This should be done two to three times per week and — in a perfect world — should be done on the same days as your harder cardio workouts. This fits the model of keeping your hard days hard and your easy days easy.

We all only have so much time to dedicate to training. We have families, jobs and other events and tasks. How you manipulate the amount of time you have to train can drastically change the outcome of your performance. The key is knowing your body and its capabilities, along with your weaknesses. Train to improve or eliminate any weakness, and work to incorporate different types of training. This will not only lead to an increase in performance but also a more well-rounded you.

Keep it simple, don’t overthink it and make it fun! As they say, variety is the spice of life — and the outcomes will typically speak for themselves.

Always running,

Nate Vandervest