Even when you’re following a strict training plan, life can get in the way and make it hard to squeeze in a run. When life gets crazy, here are 5 cross-training options that closely simulate actual running:
- Treadmill running
- Deep water running
- Cross-country skiing
- Elliptical training
1. Treadmill Running
This cross-training activity simulates your running form the closest, however, your bio mechanics are modified. Why? Well, your body will naturally adapt to a stable surface, i.e. the treadmill belt, versus road, trails, sidewalk, etc.
- Softer surface versus the hard surfaces.
- You can train through any type of weather conditions.
- If it’s dusk or dawn, light conditions won’t be an issue because you’ll be indoors.
- Treadmills are not calibrated.
- Weather conditions vary when you’re training outdoors versus indoors.
- Your bio mechanics will have a variation because you’re running outdoors versus indoors.
2. Deep Water Running
This cross-training activity is ideal (if you like the water) because it’s less impact on your body and can spare you from many injuries. What you’ll need is a floatation water running belt. This allows you to stay afloat when you’re running in the deep section of the water (hence the name). Your feet should not come in contact with the pool floor.
- Deep water running creates natural resistance while running in the water.
- You will not be subjected to impact on your joints or soft tissue. The natural resistance is provided by water while you’re running.
- You’ll also build strength and endurance. Believe me, you may not feel like you’re getting a workout, but you are.
- You’ll also want to run for time because you will not necessarily have “mileage”.
- Some runners find deep water running mentally boring.
- Some pools may not have the depth that is needed for under water running and your form may be compromised.
3. Cross-Country Skiing / Cross-Country Ski Machine
If you enjoy skiing, you’ll enjoy the fact that this is one of the most effective cross-training substitutions for running. Believe it or not, many runners are cross-country skiers.
- Cross-country skiing uses the same muscle group used during running
- The activity is low impact, and it helps develop your core and upper body strength.
- Outdoor skiing isn’t readily available.
- Cross-country machines are not very common in gyms (especially if you’re traveling a lot, it’s not a popular machine).
- If you’re an inexperienced cross-country skier then it may be an ineffective training tool if your technique is not correct, actually causing more harm than good.
4. Elliptical Training
This workout machine is found in most hotel gyms and workout facilities, a variety of them have heart rate monitors you can plug into or connect via wireless.
- An elliptical is low impact, reducing stress on your joint and soft tissues.
- These machines are not always calibrated and the exercise can be mundane.
- It is easy to find yourself not working out hard, but going through the motions of “running”.
If you’re experienced in outdoor cycling, this can be a fun cross training tool. If you don’t own a bike, but belong to a gym, stationary bikes are a convenient way to cross train without ever having to go outdoors.
- Cycling is convenient and it’s a low impact activity (unless you have a fall).
- Cycling is a great source of cross training for triathletes in metro area.
- Riding outdoors is not always safe (i.e. falls, crashes), especially if you’re clipped in while cycling.
- Your running muscle groups do not have to put in the same amount of effort for cycling.