Cross Training

As some of you may know, I enjoy cross-training. I could (and did) during most of my injuries cross-train like a champion and come back from EVERY INJURY as a stronger runner…it may have taken a few months, but I did indeed come back. In fact, after every injury, I’ve recovered appropriately and PRed!

That being said, I get asked a lot about cross-training machines I use and to be quite honest…I’m quite picky.  I don’t have time, energy or the patience to waste on machines I hate.  That being said, I will use other machines occasionally just because I like to be a wild card.

I wanted to talk about some of the random cross-training I do (when I’m not feeling lazy and while still running).  When I’m training, if I don’t cross-train, I will probably get injured.  My body needs to cross-train to work other muscles that running doesn’t work. I am injury prone, so cross-training helps keep me more healthy. 

Don’t forget; I’m not a doctor so you should always seek medical advice from a professional.

How Can I Stay on the Elliptical or Arc Trainer?

First, I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I have no secrets of how to stay on an elliptical or arc trainer. Arc trainers for running are the same. You don’t stop in the middle of a run 5 miles out; I don’t stop in the middle of an elliptical or arc trainer session.  Once my feet go on it…I stay on.

I watch tv, text, tweet…whatever.  Hell, I even tweet and text when I run easy on the treadmill…another reason I’m a fake runner, I suppose.

I know plenty of different articles can better explain to you why cross-training is important and why you should add a day or two of cross-training, so I’m not going to ramble too much.  I will tell you though, every time I cut out cross-training I seem to get some injury.   I don’t have time for cross-training, then I don’t have time to run…I don’t have time to get injured most important.

Some of the machines I enjoy to do my cross-training:

The Precor 100i for Runners: 


The Precor 100i for runners has been my go-to machine as of the last year.  The Precor 100i simulates anything from a biking motion to a stair-stepping motion and even a running motion.  (It takes a lot of practice to get the hang of the darn thing…believe me, the number of times I’ve fallen off).  I crank the Precor 100i up to the highest resistance (which in my gym is 20) and go.

I have never done intervals on the Precor 100i, but I know it’s possible. Honestly, if I could crank the machine up higher than I would…but sadly my gym doesn’t do that.  I could spend hours on this thing because it’s very low resistance and I feel like it is building up my quads enough so that they are strong enough to balance all my running.

The Arc Trainer for Runners: 

I remember this photo while simulating running arc trainer for runners

The Arc Trainer for running is another favorite of mine.  I’ve been using the Arc Trainer for runners since I first started working out in the gym around 9th or 10th grade. In fact, I’ve used the Arc Trainer far before running.

I’m most familiar with the Arc Trainer and they have several great programs to get your heart rate up.  I usually either do the cardio setting (you can adjust the level of resistance) or just manual at resistance 100.  Someone recommended the cardio setting on the Arc Trainer for runners and I’ve been hooked every since.

Resistance 100 creates havoc on your legs, and you will be sore the next day (so good havoc, I suppose). You will be stronger on race day, though. The Arc Trainer for runners is my favorite cardio cross-training.

Core work for Runners:

There are so many different ways to do core work.  You and I probably have a different favorite method.  Right now, my preferred method is the p90x Ab Ripper DVD or the Nike training club app for iPhone.  (The training club is free!).  I am not in a state of mind that I particularly want to sit in a gym and do medicine ball twists or whatnot…I have found doing these by myself, at my house is more effective…because I actually do them.

I believe that core work has gotten me through so many races.  I’m hoping it continues that way.   If I could do 15 minutes of core work and keep to PR…that would be nice.   I have a gym routine I do when I make it to the gym to do some work.

I could add something about swimming here…but I’m a lost cause with getting back into the pool.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

Do you cross-train?

Favorite gym machine?

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  1. I love to cross train it is a good rest from running but still a workout! I am the same as you I just keep going all they way through! How many days a week should cross training be done?

    1. As much as I would like to have answers for you, I don’t have any credentials to give that sort of advice. I can tell you 2+ hours weekly is what I typically do.

  2. I remember you used to arc train like crazy! I guess you still do just that you haven’t talked about it as much on here and obviously not being injured you are running :). I have friends who, like you, do a ton of cross training on these machines and it really helps them. I should probably try out some of those at my gym, it really helps that there’s a TV too.

    +1 on getting on the machine. As soon as I get off, I know it’s over. So I try to get water, go to the bathroom, etc right before so that I can stay on!

    1. I actually haven’t been as consistant with cross training as when I’m injured or when I have a set routine. With moving, I’ve been using the cybex 100i once a week or so. I like the arcs, but the last semester while in upstate they seemed to be taken…

  3. My favorite machine at the gym would have to be the leg press. I love my thighs and love working on them!

  4. Crosstraining is definitely essential to maintaining fitness when injured – I swam a lot (err, for me) through my IT band injury and my double stress fractures. I don’t like gym machines much, but if I had to pick I’d say the elliptical or spin bike (in a class scenario – I can’t just sit there and pedal away on my own!)

    I enjoy some forms of cross-training *almost* as much as running, particularly Body Attack classes. Although they’re so high impact I’m not sure they count as cross training.


  5. I loooove the arc trainer. I used to be best friends with it when I first got injured before all of these surgeries. The thing kicks.your.ass. I would sweat more on it then I would on the treadmill. Cross-training is so important and I wish I would have known better BEFORE all of this knee nonsense happened to me in the first place. I’ve learned to love so many different types of exercise because of it,though, so I guess it wasn’t all a bad thing.

  6. We have already discussed our mutual love of the arc trainer. Um I really need to start cross training again. Please kick my ass until I do. And I know that it has made you a stronger runner…you don’t run 1:2X halves without core work and XT on top of just don’t. Maybe that’s my problem. hmm.

  7. I swear I’ve read something like this before on your page or I have been to the future and back… weird hehe… I agree with cross training, yet I only do it when I can’t run, yet it’s love/hate, nothing replaces running oh and in my ‘cross training’ water running and swimming is included… 😀

  8. My college’s gym had the Precor 100i too! I discovered it on accident one day because all the treadmills were occupied. One thing I love about triathlon is the built-in cross training. 🙂

  9. Cross training – used to HATE it now I love it! When I got my groin injury it really made me re-evaluate the whole cross training thing and I have to say, my legs feel 100x stronger every time I hit the pavement. Currently the stationary bike is my favorite, but I think that is just because Shannon has it set up so I can be on the computer at the same time 😉

    That Precor 100i….man that thing hurts/is uber confusing but sure as heck gives you an epic workout!! I can see why you stayed in such amazing shape by using that thing.

  10. Like too many runners I hate cross training so I rarely do it…hence my stress fracture you would think I learned my lesson.
    While I was injured, my go-to was the elliptical without arms because it simulated running pretty well.
    I tried so many friggin times to get the hang of the Precor 100i and never could. I thought I was an idiot, but hearing you say that it took you a while to get it down pact makes me think maybe I should give it another try.

  11. I need to cross train more! After getting injured last year I learned this the hard way yet I still haven’t taken it to heart. Goal for this year is to do more strength training, biking and try yoga (again!).

  12. I’m great at weights or “circuit” stuff but not machines – mostly because I’m too lazy to go to the gym. Probably how I ended up with a gigantic fracture in my femur.

  13. I love me some cross training!! I prefer to bike or lift weights…but I’m up for anything really…i love group fitness classes also! I love to run, but if I did it all the time I would go crazy. I am also a fan of the step mill, and the arc trainer- sweat like cray on that thing! 🙂

  14. I used the precore and the arc trainer when I was an elliptical whore 😀 They were and are my favorite except for a new elliptical at the Y but I don’t know the name. I also like my stationary bike because I can watch a tv show or read a good bike. Can I just comment on the fact that your resistance setting is awesome! strength girl. O and I too don’t like doing abs at the gym… I am always think people are either looking at me or I am just plain in the way.

    ps. I really liked this post 😉

  15. Well, I guess we are cross training twins – I use all these and p90x Ab Ripper is my core go-to. Maybe if I actually push myself on these machines one day I’ll be as speedy as you (*dream onnnn*) 🙂

  16. I used the arc trainer a ton in college, but my gym doesn’t have one so I use the elliptical mostly. I wish we did have them though, I feel like they are a better workout. We also have the 1000i thing (I feel like it should have a better name) but I don’t know how to use it effectively. Do I do the short stride? Long stride? WHAT! It’s too confusing for my little brain, so I avoid it. Maybe I’ll give it another try. Assuming I don’t hit snooze on the 5:30 alarm.

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