Try these cross training methods for maximum running performance

August 5, 2014 · 5 minute read

Research makes clear the benefits of cross training, and many runners have learned to incorporate it into their training. Some people argue that to run fast you simply need to run more. However, there is a point where one more run could drastically increase your chance for over training or a specific overuse injury. Cross training allows athletes to increase fitness and strength while reducing the risk of injury. Below are several cross training methods that have proven to increase running performance, as well as the best places in Richmond to do these activities.


Cycling is one of the more popular cross training activities. It can increase your ability to have a more powerful run by strengthening key muscles groups and improving your cardiovascular system. Simply put, by getting stronger on the bike you can become a stronger runner.

Cycling is a popular cross training choice for runners.

Cycling is a popular cross training choice for runners.

Key Workout: To gauge progress on the bike, do this test: Warm up for 20 minutes and then do 5 minutes at 95% effort. Take 10 minutes rest and then do 20 minutes at the hardest effort you can sustain for that time. After this, start your cool down. Do this test at the same location each time and record your distance and heart rate if possible to compare progress.

Best Place in Richmond to Cycle: West Creek Parkway is a safe location that many cyclists in the area take advantage of. Just be sure to follow the rules of the road, and watch out for the geese!



Swimming can be used as a great post-run exercise. It can help loosen up tight areas from your run as well as provide muscular balance. Swimming also increases your lung capacity allowing your fitness reach a higher level.

Key Workout: Do a 500-meter warm up, and then do the following test set: Perform 10 x 100 meters (or yards depending on the pool you are in) with 30 seconds of rest between each interval. These should be done at maximum intensity. Your average pace will allow you to get your threshold swim pace and see if you’re lacking speed over endurance or not.

Pool running is good for injury rehab.

Pool running is good for injury rehab.

Best Place in Richmond to Swim: The Collegiate School Aquatic Center is located off the Ironbridge exit in Chesterfield. This state of the art swimming facility includes a 50-meter competition pool and a 25 meter instruction pool.



Runners undergoing injury rehab commonly use water running. The exercise allows you to train the running pattern and strengthen key muscles groups without pounding on your body. The key is to do this in deep water and mimic your running form as best you can. Use a flotation belt to get accustom to the technique. Once you get the form down you can remove the belt for a better overall workout.

Key Workout: Do a 15-minute warm up and then 3 x 8 minutes at 80% effort while going as hard as possible for the last minute of each interval. Take 2 minutes easy between intervals and then do a 15-minute cool down.

Best Place in Richmond to Water Run: Any deep-water pool is great for water running.



Anti-gravity treadmills are pretty crazy looking, but useful.

Anti-gravity treadmills are pretty crazy looking, but useful.

Running on an anti-gravity treadmill is a great way to get additional mileage while reducing your chance for injury. This is a specially designed treadmill that allows you to adjust the amount of body weight you run with. You can reduce your body weight by any percentage you would like in order to run at a faster pace or simply run longer with less pounding. This is a great tool to use when rehabbing an injury or simply wanting to increase running fitness by using a running-specific technique.

Key Workout: This is perfect for allowing your body to feel the speed of goal race pace. For example, if training for a 5k you could do a 3.1 mile run at goal race pace and adjust the body weight percentage closer to your actual body weight each time you preform the workout until you run the distance at the pace you desire to run with 100% of your body weight.  Make sure to get a good warm up and cool down during this workout.

Best Place in Richmond to Use an Anti-Gravity Treadmill: Advance Orthopedic has an anti-gravity treadmill that is available for public use. You must call and set up an appointment for someone to show you how the treadmill is operated and then you can schedule the times you would like to use it.



It is no secret that runners tend to have very tight muscles, and most running injuries are due to lack of flexibility. Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility while also increasing core control.

Yoga can lead to better results on the trail and road.

Yoga can lead to better results on the trail and road.

Key Workout: Attend a yoga class at a yoga studio for the best instruction.

Best Place in Richmond to Do Yoga: There are many yoga studios in Richmond that are popular for runners. Hot House Yoga is one of the most popular in the area and has classes all day long to accommodate your schedule.



This is an essential component to reaching your running potential. Doing proper strength training exercises allows you to develop muscular balance while strengthening key muscle groups for running. By increasing muscular strength you can become a much stronger runner to a degree. This can also be an essential component to injury prevention.

Key Workout: Do 10 minutes of dynamic warm up exercises like running, jump rope, cycling, etc. You can do body weight exercise anywhere. For example, push-ups, body-weight squats, walking lunges, single leg box squats, split squat, lateral lunges, are all great options. It is best to receive professional instruction before performing these exercises to insure that you have the correct form.

Don't forget the strength training.

Don’t forget the strength training.

Best Place in Richmond to Strength Train: Endorphin Fitness specializes in strength training for the endurance athlete. Taking one of their eFIT strength training classes is a great way to receive expert instruction and learn key strength exercise to increase running performance.