Fun and Effective Cross Training Activities for Runners – Top 4

For many of us, running is our main source of emotional and physical wealth. It’s all we know. It’s all we love. But what if this love can be shared? What if we opened our hearts and minds and let some more love in? Love that, when joined with running, only made us better and stronger? What if I said, “I can show you the way, man?

Ok, before you freak out and think I’m now trying to become some guru guiding you towards the light of soul transcendence or a higher state of consciousness, think again.

If you’re searching for that, search elsewhere. Because you’re not going to find it from me. But what you are going to find is one of the most powerful tools to becoming a better overall runner – cross training.

Yes, that’s right. How to be a better runner? Don’t always run.

This might sound like witchcraft. Or perhaps voodoo. At the very least counterintuitive. But hear me out.

Cross training will take your running game to the next level. The good news for you? There’s no shortage of options out there for you to try. However, in this blog I am going to nail down the 4 most fun and effective cross training activities that will not only improve you as a runner, but make you a better overall athlete as well.

Why Cross Train?

The goal for us runners is to always be well-rounded and well-balanced. Doing the same activity over and over (and over and over) again will slowly break you down. And I’m not just talking about the dull, constant pounding that will wear you down physically. I’m also talking about the persistent repetition that can burn you down mentally as well.

Not to mention, running is a very high impact and hard-on-your-joints exercise. If that’s all you do, and if that’s all you train, then eventually the injury bug will get you. Hence, why cross training is so good for you. And hence, why every runner should adopt cross training into their weekly exercise routines.

So while there are many activities to choose from, the below list has been hand-picked as the very best to help you in your journey.

Let us lean into the great benefits of alternative exercises.

4 Most Fun and Effective Cross Training Activities for Runners


**drum roll please**

1. Biking

Biking (or cycling as it is often called) is packed to the brim with a mountain of benefits. It saves your joints from the barrage of pounding you put it through when you run, it’s a great cardiovascular exercise, and it also strengthens the muscles in your legs. Did I mention it’s fun too? You get to go fast and feel the wind in your face while simultaneously reducing the impact on your body. If you haven’t incorporated cycling into your routine, now is the time. So take the load off, Annie. And enjoy the ride.

2. Hiking

Ah, the great outdoors. Hiking, generally speaking, will take you on an expedition through and around the wonders of nature. Just being out in the natural environment and surrounded by Mother Earth alone has significant mental health benefits. But there are also some very physical benefits as well. Hiking helps strengthen your core and balance by being able to side-step and push your way over and through rocky terrain and uneven obstacles. No doubt this will build supplemental muscle in places that running doesn’t reach. In turn, this will create more aerobic endurance and strength that you can tap into during your runs.

3. Yoga

This is the ultimate healer. Yoga cleanses your body when you’re beaten down from the road. It takes your muscles from that feeling of tightness, like a rubber band about to snap, and loosens them up to be more limber and agile. It’s also true that practicing yoga is as soothing for your body as it is for your soul. But don’t let it fool you – this is a workout. It’s a workout that decreases impact, but increases flexibility. Perhaps most importantly, a workout that will leave you feeling refreshed and restored and ready to be your best self. Whether that’s on the road or not.

4. Weight training

Fun? Weight training? Oh, yes. Yes it is. Weight training is not only where we get strong, but it’s also where we balance ourselves out. Let’s face it – strong muscles are needed for us pavement pounding warriors. We need strong muscles to keep us plowing through our adventures when we get fatigued and start to feel weak. It’s important to strengthen your legs, to strengthen your upper body, and to strengthen your core. They all work in conjunction and will not only make you more of a complete runner, but more of a complete athlete as well.

For those of you who don’t know where to start with the weights, I found a great article here that will help you out.

Honorable mentions:

  1. Swimming: It’s a great workout, but it’s tougher to have access to.
  2. Tennis: Fun activity that will increase agility.
  3. Elliptical: The most similar exercise to running, without your joints taking a beating.

There you have it, folks. The top 4 fun and effective cross training activities for runners.

So please put down the running shoes and get on a bike every now and then. Don’t forget to give your mind and body a break by exploring the great outdoors on an epic hiking adventure. Strengthen your muscles by picking up a few weights. And last, but definitely not least, loosen yourself up with some yoga.

If you incorporate these activities into your routine, your body and spirit will thank you. You’ll also be more well-rounded and less likely to suffer from a running-related injury. Which doesn’t hurt (pun intended), either.

One final note – this should be fun. Cross training is not a chore. It’s a time for us to break up the monotony of life and try new things.

After all, variety is the spice of life.

And it’s time we spice things up.