Use cross training as a supplement, not a replacement

Don’t be afraid to hit the bike, just prioritize running if that’s where your goals are

Do you cross train?

You very likely do something that someone would call cross training. Whether things to supplement our aerobic conditioning like elliptical trainers or cycling or things like strength training to beef up some aspects of our fitness that running may not do as great at, almost all of us do something.

How do you prioritize your cross training, though?

If your goals revolve around running performance, I’d like you to consider cross training to be a supplement to your running, not a replacement.

What does that means?

That means running is the top priority. You set up your training plan to do as much running as you can commit to. Once your running is done, you use what time and energy you still have available to do the other exercises.

If you are debating between another 10 minutes of running or 10 minutes of cross training, you should think first of running. Only if the extra 10 minutes of running would lead to problems (injury, scheduling conflicts, etc.) should you look to the additional exercises.

This doesn’t mean you ignore those extra exercises. They might be important when doing more running might put you at too great of a risk for injury. You might have a big block of time available to run and a smaller block that is not enough time for running but might fit a quick living room strength session of a few lunges and some push ups. Then take advantage of this time.

As much as possible, build your cross training into the plan also. I do a quick routine that takes less than 5 minutes before every run and this includes walking lunges. It’s a great way to warm up before the run and a nice boost to the strength training.

So don’t ignore your cross training in whatever form it may come. However, be sure that running is the top priority if your goals revolve around running.

2 Replies to “Use cross training as a supplement, not a replacement”

  1. Great post Ryan!! I have some Friends that are very talented, they run 3 times per week, an example is a friend that runs around 35 mins in the 10k, on other days He might swim or bike ( He is not a triathlete), every time He runs though is Quality (Intervals or a long run). I always insist, if He just run more often maybe 6 times per week, He would be in another level. His response is always the same, He says “Maybe, but if I ran more often maybe I would not enjoy it as much”, and it can be true, but given his talent I am sure that if He just run more, He would be much faster, even national champion.

    1. Thanks Cesar.

      One thing to keep in mind is that only your friends can determine their goals. If they are concerned about not enjoying running as much, that’s a very legitimate concern for some people and it should be respected. If they were saying they wish they could run faster in their races, then I’d say they should consider running more.

      This is where we need to understand the runner’s goals in order to have an idea of what is best for them. It’s why one of the first questions I ask any runner I’m coaching is what their goals are. I have methods to keep these goals front and center in my mind whenever working with them because that really is the most important thing.

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