Cross Training For Runners

One question I often get is specifically how runners should do cross training for runners. For example for someone training for a marathon:
1. How many weeks prior to the race should I start training?
2. How many miles should I run and on what days?
3. On what days should I do Beachbody workouts, and which ones?
4. etc.

I used to run all the time. It wasn’t until I started doing Beachbody workouts in 2010 that I really learned how to cross train. My training was so out of balance and it showed because I had no muscle tone, and I had a lot of overuse injuries from running too much.

cross training for runners

FLASHBACK! The thrill of victory after having completed the Chicago Marathon in 1999. It was my first and only marathon.


cross training for runners

On the home stretch!


Cross Training for Runners Advice

I polled one of my Beachbody Coach groups recently in which there are a lot of runners, and here is some of their advice:

  • I did a Hal Higdon training schedule (google it) which allows you to choose the current running level you’re at. It indicates the days to do strength and cross-train. I would do maybe P90 or P90X(3?) and do the strength days it indicates, run on the program cardio days, and yoga or pilates on the rest days.
  • Is she running now? Depending on how much she is running, she may need 6-12 months to properly train. I vary cross training. She should be running 3-4 days a week with a long run planned for a weekend day or a day off…snd then bump mileage up each subsequent week for the long run. I cross train opposite running days by switching up with spin, HIIT intervals, and TRX/Pump for strength training… I think that any T25 or Master’s Hammer & Chisel could work into great cross training. There are great training schedules on Pinterest .. most reputable come from Runners World.
  • When is the marathon? The Disney marathon is in January, and suggested training schedule with Jeff Galloway starts in July, so about 6 months (29 weeks) to train for a full.  As mentioned above, cardio days should be run days, but it’s great to do any strength training on other days. A rest day should be built in after the long run.
  • Depending on how far she can run at this point, I would try to add a mile and a half on her next run. From there as that becomes comfortable try to add two miles. So on and so forth. I never rsn the full 26.2 until race day. I trained up to 21 miles. The last 5 is just momentum and refusing to give up. I ran every other day and did light weights in the gym the other days. One day complete rest…sometimes two if I needed it. Yoga would be good. And on race day prepare for chafing.
  • First time marathon runner should definitely give themselves AT LEAST 4 months to train, if not more. I incorporated P90X3 6 days a week and ran 3-4 days a week (1 long run, usually my 4th running day) and I saw a huge improvement in my times and stamina. I have followed the Rock and Roll Marathon and Half Marathon training guide, it’s lead me well. Just make sure the person is staying properly hydrated, resting 1 full day, 2 if needed. Feel free to message or email for any questions. Have another full marathon I am running Dec. 7th, while I am doing body beast 6 days a week too!
  • I used Hal Higdons intermediate. There is only one day of cross training. The runs vary in length. I’m doing my first this coming Sunday (Marine Corps Marathon)!
    Good luck to her!
  • I’ve done 3 marathons…Best Book ever is Jeff Gallways book called “Marathon”. He starts you out 6 months prior to the race! It was my training Bible for each one!
  • There are a couple different ways she can approach this depending on base fitness level, time constraints, and personal preference. First I would suggest either T25 or P90X3 as the cross training program. Also, before beginning “training” she should have a good base of at least 15 miles/week. If she doesn’t have time follow Hal Higdon Novice Supreme (30 week program)

    1). Follow a traditional Hal Higdon 12 week training plan, and incorporate the first cross training for runners 3 workouts in that week for P90X3 or T25, then push the next 3 to the following week. Do the workouts on easy run days, 1 rest day and another day of her choosing. Always be sure to leave 1 rest day for full recovery.
    2). Fully incorporate the workouts and run 3 days per week. A lot of runners have had tremendous success with this method. The week consists of 1 long run (follow the long run schedule in the Hal Higdon plan) 1 short run for time, 1 fartlek (unstructured run w/ bursts of speed followed by slower recovery jog) for a mid distance run. Always incorporate at least 1 rest day.
    3). The Galloway method is a run-walk method that many runners use. I do not have a lot of experience with this method, but I know for beginners it can be tremendously encouraging.

One point to note is that nutrition is hugely important for runners’ training or any type of training for that matter. My favorite nutrition plan is the 21 Day Fix. I use it myself and strongly recommend!

Nutrition is hugely important for runners when they cross train


Based on the above, here is a solid cross-training schedule using the 21 Day Fix workouts. As you go through your training schedule leading up to your race, follow the schedule for Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3, go back to Week 1, and repeat until race day. This schedule is for running 4 days per week. Another option would be to run 3 days per week and substitute 21 Day Fix Total Body Cardio Fix or 21 Day Fix Cardio Fix for one of the run days (probably whichever of your run days is the shortest).

Bottom Line: My Specific Recommendation for Cross Training for Runners – Your 3-Week Schedule

Week 1

  • Sunday: run
  • Monday: 21 Day Fix Yoga
  • Tuesday: run
  • Wednesday: 21 Day Fix Upper Fix
  • Thursday: run
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: run


Week 2

  • Sunday: run
  • Monday: 21 Day Fix Pilates
  • Tuesday: run
  • Wednesday: 21 Day Fix Lower Fix
  • Thursday: run
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: run


Week 3

  • Sunday: run
  • Monday: 21 Day Fix Yoga
  • Tuesday: run
  • Wednesday: 21 Day Fix Dirty 30
  • Thursday: run
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: run

To get started, order your 21 Day Fix Challenge Pack here. Best of luck with your training, and please let me know how it is going!

I hope the above info will help you have an amazing, efficient, effective, and injury-free running experience!

Yours in Health,



Stewart Forscher, Team Get Super Fit


p.s. I hope you found this post helpful.  Please check one of the social media buttons below and share this article!  If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments section below or contact me.

Note: This post informational only, and the product(s) mentioned is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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