4 Unconventional Cross Training Options For Runners

Get off the elliptical and try one of these other activities!


Nearly any training plan includes a day or two of cross training. With cross training being defined as any activity other than running, that leaves a pretty large range of what exercises can be done to fulfill this goal. However, many runners find themselves stuck in a rut and gravitating towards the elliptical or walking on their cross training days. Fortunately, there are plenty of other activities out there that can benefit your running and offer a change of scenery while allowing you to have a great time.

What: Hiking
Why You Should Try It: Hiking is not only a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some fresh air. This activity also strengthens your legs as your body moves over uneven or hilly terrain. You’ll also work small stabilizing muscles in your ankles and feet that don’t get as much attention on the smooth surfaces of the road, which can help prevent injury.

What: Paddle boarding
Why You Should Try It: This water activity is perfect for the warmer months of late spring, summer, and early fall. Balancing as you stand on the board is great for your legs, but paddling is a serious core workout! Don’t be surprised if your abs are sore after this one.

What: Basketball or Tennis
Why You Should Try It: These fast-paced court sports will help you develop speed and agility without the pounding of a long distance run. Both sports require short sprints, quick turns, and lots of power, so don’t be surprised if you notice your speed increasing on your daily runs!

What: Barre class
Why You Should Try It: This total body workout is no impact, so your joints get a break from the pounding of running. You’ll strengthen your legs, glutes, and core throughout the entire workout and your upper body will get some love, too! If you have problems with glute or hip weakness, check out a barre class at your local studio or online.