Updated: May 21, 2019
While we specialize in run training, we recognize the need for variety & balance.
We recommend cross training as a means of increasing training volume without increasing the risk of impact injuries.
We also recommend low-impact aerobic activities like cycling, swimming, aquajogging, hiking, and cross country skiing as alternatives to running when you aren’t feeling 100%.
The beauty of cross training is that you can often do 2-3 x as much training volume/time as you could run without as great a risk of impact injury. In fact, it often takes 2-3 x as much time to get the same aerobic benefits from low-impact cross training activities as you would get from a run.
When choosing between cross training activities we, aim to do those that most closely resemble running.
When injured or slightly beat up, easy & long runs can be substituted with cross training for 1.5 to 2 x the recommended time for a run.
Workouts (fartleks, hill repeats, etc.) can also be replicated on a bike, in the pool, or on skis.
Cross Train by Feel/Effort/Heart Rate
To get the same aerobic and cardiovascular benefits from a cross country activity, you may have to work a little harder. Heart rate and breathing (the Talk Test) are good metrics to determine how hard you are going.
Oftentimes athletes who are injured come back stronger (mentally & physically) after a stint of cross training. Meb Keflezighi, Deena Kastor, Shalane Flanagan, Des Linden, and Sarah Hall all ran their best marathons after being sidelined and cross training due to injury.
Rather than wait until you are injured to incorporate cross training, why not mix some in while you are healthy?