Home > Beginners

MEC Running video series: Episode 5 – Strength and Cross-Training

Mountain Equipment Co-op in partnership with Canadian Running magazine present a six-part video series outlining basic training principles and running advice.

This season, we’re bringing you a video series to help get the workouts on point. As part of our series, the latest episode takes us off the roads and into the gym for an all-important but often overlooked strength and cross-training session.

RELATED: MEC Running video series: Episode 1 – Tempo Runs

RELATED: MEC Running video series: Episode 2 – Hills

RELATED: MEC Running video series: Episode 3 – Speedwork

RELATED: MEC Running video series: Episode 4 – The Long Run

While it’s true that more time spent running will go farthest in helping you improve as a runner, there are also occasions where you’re better off doing something else entirely.

Strength and cross-training is a great tool for runners for the following reasons:

  • Minimizes the risk of overuse, repetitive strain-type injuries and ailments
  • Helps build supplemental fitness including strength and flexibility
  • Offers low impact alternatives to aid and expedite recovery from hard running
  • Breaks up the monotony of repetitive and continuous running

Depending on how much you run, cross-training for just a few days each week is a great addition to any training plan.

Strength cross training mec video series plank

Be sure to choose activities that you enjoy but which also challenge you to improve aspects of fitness often ignored by running such as general strength, flexibility and upper body exercises. Weights, yoga and swimming are all good options. Cardio activities such as cycling, spinning and even brisk walking or zumba are also great for non-running days and offer effective means to actively recover. Cross-training can be done for a little as 20 minutes but as much as an hour (or more) per session, several times per week.

Cross-training should be scheduled for non-running days but should also not replace rest days meant to be taken off completely. Cross-training can be particularly beneficial for days following hard workouts and long runs when running more may be risky but alternative (cardio-based) activities can aid in recovery. When feeling sore, fatigued or on the verge of injury, cross training can often be used safely and effectively to maintain (perhaps enhance) fitness while also not risking further problems caused by running.

Continuous running and training can also become boring, stale and uninspiring over time. Cross-training offers an opportunity to break up the monotony of running while providing a physical and psychological boost to your exercise routine.