The truth, of course, is that mixing up your exercise routine can help you avoid injuries and make you a better runner at the same time.
But not all cross-training activities are created equal, so it's important to know what you're trying to accomplish in each session. Today we'll look at three reasons to cross-train and some of the most effective exercises for each.
Deep water running
For that reason, most coaches I know recommend deep-water running. It's a no-impact exercise that closely mimics the running motion. Since the muscular demands are significantly less, however, it can be beneficial to include low-weight, lower-body exercises in a deep-water running session (example: body squats, lunges, and calf raises in the middle or at the end of the session).
Help you recover
For example, you may find that swimming is a more effective way to recover than the elliptical because it doesn't put any additional stress on the muscles used for running. The exercise bike can be effective as well if the resistance is kept low and the cadence relatively high.
Stay in shape between seasons
Hopefully incorporating some cross-training in your program before you are hurt will let you feel better and run faster -- and have a better opinion of those machines in the gym!
Share your own cross-training stories in the comments section below, as well as any personal favorite workouts!