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5 Ways To Maintain Running Fitness When You Can’t Run

An injury or missing some of your training schedule doesn't have to completely derail you.

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We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of a training cycle and suddenly you have a hiccup in your plans when a minor injury takes you out of the running game for a few weeks. Although running might be on hold for a week or two, you can still maintain your fitness level so that you are able to start back training without missing out on much.

If you have to miss more than a week or two of training mid-training cycle, you may still need to alter your goal or choose a different race. However, if you are sidelined for a week or two you can still maintain your cardiovascular fitness.

Here are some ways to effectively maintain fitness:

Aqua Jogging

If you have access to a pool and the pool is too deep for your feet to touch the ground while your head is above water, purchase an aqua jogging belt to keep you buoyant and upright. Aim to run for time and not for distance.


Outdoor cycling is a great way to maintain cardiovascular fitness. As a runner, you may find that your quads fatigue quickly if your legs aren’t adapted to cycling. Riding out of the saddle correlates more to running than riding in the saddle. A good place to start when cycling in place of running is to bike two miles for every 1 mile on your training schedule. You can easily add in intervals on the bike.

Indoor Cycling

If you do not have access to a road bike, then indoor cycling is a great option. The same rules apply to indoor cycling as to outdoor cycling. The only difference is that it is easier to stay out of the saddle during the workout than it is when riding outdoors. Make sure you have enough resistance on your bike so that your legs are in charge of how fast your legs are spinning and avoid using too much momentum.

Elliptical/Arc Trainer

The elliptical and Arc Trainer are great because you are in an upright position similar to running while moving the legs and upper body. The challenge is keeping your heart rate high enough to have a positive training response. Use a heart rate monitor for these workouts and try to stay in a cardiovascular heart rate zone. Spend the same amount of time on the machine as you would while running outdoors. Instead of holding onto the rails of the elliptical, pump your arms in the same motion as you do when running.

Alter G®

If you are fortunate enough to have access to an anti-gravity treadmill then you are in luck! Used by many professional runners when injured, the Alter G can be found at some physical therapy clinics, gyms and sports performance centers. The Alter G treadmill allows you to run at your normal intensity levels, but at only a percentage of your body weight. Work with a PT, run coach or other specialist to design a short term program for staying on track while using the Alter G.

What ways have you maintained your fitness level while temporarily sidelined during training?

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L. Renee Blount and Outside TV host Pat Parnell posted up at a popular trailhead, handed out free Athletic Brewing craft non-alcoholic beer, and then recorded runners’ live reactions. Want to find out what all the hype’s about? Click here to discover a world without compromise.


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