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Cross-Training Workouts for Runners on Non-Running Days

Sometimes you want to take a break from running, here are some helpful cross training workouts for runners on non running days!

I’ll be honest. Once the marathon training season is over I completely go nuts with all of the exercises that I had no time for when I was too busy running. Now that we are headed into winter running season (and I am not a winter runner, unless the race is in Florida 🙂 )

I have always been a bit of fitness voyeur, I love everything from rowing, to spinning, to dance cardio! So picking a favorite workout for this month’s Workouts For Runner’s Series was actually REALLY tough. How do I pick from all of the workouts that I love so much?!

I decided to share a workout that I do when I simply want a good sweat at the gym. I designed this workout for the days when I don’t want to think, plus its really challenging so I leave the gym feeling really good about myself too. 😉 It incorporates several pieces of equipment so you are guaranteed NOT to get bored.


Runners often find themselves caught in the conundrum of what to do on their non-running days. Finding the right balance is crucial in avoiding overuse injuries, enhancing strength, and boosting endurance. Here are some effective workouts that runners can incorporate into their fitness routine on non-running days, also known as cross-training days.

1. Strength Training: Strength training plays a vital role in improving running performance by strengthening the muscles and joints, which can help decrease the risk of injury. Include exercises targeting core muscles, lower body, and upper body.

  • Lower Body: Squats, lunges, deadlifts, calf raises and leg press. These exercises help strengthen your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes, which are vital for runners.
  • Core: Planks, Russian twists, bicycle crunches, and leg raises. A strong core improves running efficiency and maintains overall balance.
  • Upper Body: Dumbbell rows, bench press, pull-ups, push-ups, and shoulder presses. Although running is primarily a lower-body activity, upper body strength is important for maintaining good form and posture.

2. Yoga: Yoga improves flexibility, balance, and mental focus. Poses like downward-facing dog, warrior series, and pigeon pose are particularly beneficial for runners as they stretch and strengthen the key running muscles.

3. Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout that helps improve cardiovascular fitness without stressing your joints. It’s a great way to recover on non-running days while still getting in some cardio.

4. Cycling: Cycling is another low-impact cardio exercise that works out your legs, helping you build strength without the heavy impact of running. It can be done outdoors or on a stationary bike.

5. Pilates: Pilates is a great workout for building core strength and improving flexibility. It focuses on small movements that require control and precision, which can be beneficial for runners.

6. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT workouts are short, intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods. They can help increase stamina and cardiovascular fitness. Be careful not to overdo these workouts as they can be demanding on your body.

7. Hiking or Walking: On easier days, consider going for a hike or walk. These activities are lower intensity, so they can help active recovery and still work your muscles and improve cardiovascular health.

Remember, the key to effective cross-training is variety and balance. All the activities listed above can complement your running, but they shouldn’t replace running in your routine. Listen to your body and adjust your workouts as necessary to keep your training enjoyable and injury-free. Happy training!

As usual I am hooking up with my favorite runner bloggers as they share their favorite workouts for when they are not running!

What is your favorite non running workout?

Janine Huldie

Wednesday 30th of November 2016

As a non-runner here, I appreciate some exercises for when not running more than you know. Thanks Nellie for sharing with me here :)