Runners are a stubborn, routine driven bunch when it comes to switching up workouts. But this lack of variety can be both mentally and physically exhausting. Cross-training, while at times difficult to fit into a training plan, is essential to runners of all experience levels. Whether you’re running 10 miles a week or 100, you should focus on taking a few workouts off the road. Here are a few of our favorite ways to get some crucial cross-training:

Strength Training
You’ve heard it a thousand times – runners need to add strength training to their weekly routine. Just one of the benefits of strength training is building lean muscle mass, which will help increase your endurance and reduce muscle fatigue. Bonus, a few well-chosen, simple moves will also improve your overall running form. Gone are the days of “being too muscular.” Fortunately, and contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to spend hours in the gym every week. As little as 10 – 15 minutes of bodyweight exercises after a run 2 – 3 times a week will improve your durability and strength. “Run Strong!” is one of our mantras here at The Grind.

Want to get your cardio in, and spin out those legs, but looking to take the pressure off your joints? Cycling is a great way to cross-train cardio and offers a range of benefits for runners. While sitting on a stationary bike can be as boring as running on the treadmill, an alternative is taking a spin class. The combination of cardio and resistance gives you an opportunity to work leg turnover, and build muscle, especially in your quads and glutes – crucial for running strength. Additionally, the focus on stabilizing during spin will help improve your overall balance and core strength, something many runners struggle with.

Runners know they should be stretching and foam rolling, but let’s face it, it’s boring. And what about your “core?!” How do you even know you’re doing it right? Get over your hesitation and schedule a weekly yoga class, it’s a great idea for runners of all levels. Traditional yoga not your thing? Challenge yourself with other forms of yoga, like Buti or Aerial. Both are great ways for runners to shake up everyday workout routines and use different muscle groups. It’s 90 percent mental, right? Consider a deep stretch yoga class with a meditation element to slow down and work your mind/body connection. Barre is a great cross-training option for a workout that isolates smaller muscle groups. You’ll be surprised how, through repetitive movements, with light weights, these classes also strengthen your core.

Seasonal activities
If your cross-training is dependent on the season, or weather, there are a number of alternatives for hitting the pavement. Here in Maine, you’ll find runners taking to the water during the summer. A sunset paddle board class can be both relaxing and challenging – a perfect choice when the weather turns uncomfortably warm. You can challenge yourself further with a SUP yoga class – a core workout you won’t forget. For the winter sports lovers, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are seasonal favorites. Try a snowshoe race to really boost the effort!

As always, workouts done together can be more fun and challenging than those done solo. So, don’t be afraid to learn something new – whether it be on your own or with a group.