Run Faster, Further and Injury-Free with Cross-Training

By Chelsea Theodoropoulos
Owner & Trainer at Burn Boot Camp

You did it. You’re officially signed up! Whether you plan run a marathon or trade in your bib number at the Cinco K Mayo finish line for a burrito – you have some work to do. Training for a race can be a daunting endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. Grab a buddy, create a training schedule and consider cross-training to more effectively prepare for race day.

Why is cross training so important?

Cross training incorporates alternate types of training into your running program to prevent injury and increase overall performance. Swimming, yoga, cycling, strength training and HIIT are examples of common cross training programs. Each provide their own unique benefit in preparing your body for race day, whether it be endurance, strength or recovery. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is an excellent source of cross training as it incorporates all three with less time commitment. It’s effective, dynamic and you can virtually do it anywhere. HIIT uses a combination of light weights, bodyweight and cardio exercises. For short bursts of time, you give 100% of effort followed by short periods of recovery. This could be something as simple as: sprint, walk, sprint walk etc.; however, it’s important to diversify the exercises across all planes of motion to protect and stabilize your joints


Short bursts of energy during a HIIT routine use your anaerobic energy system while the recovery periods use your aerobic energy system. Both are critical to optimize performance as they aid in long-term fat loss and conditioning. Long distance running uses your aerobic metabolism which allows your body to be hyper-efficient in getting oxygen to where it needs to go, although it comes at the compromise of intensity. HIIT uses your anaerobic metabolism that has the intensity needed to increase your VO2 Max, strengthen your cardiovascular system and build stamina.

Placing new demands on your body is key to growth. Whether your goal is to shave time off your mile or finish your race without stopping – variety is necessary. Variety gives your body the opportunity to adapt to new intensities and break through common running plateaus.


Running primarily focuses on lower body strength specifically building an athlete’s body to be calf and quad dominant. The stronger your legs, the further you can propel your body into the next stride or take on the 5% incline with ease. Plyometric movements, or jump training, focuses on power. These short bursts of intensity build muscle, strength and increase bone density. Upper body strength is just as important in running as lower body strength. A strong core stabilizes your trunk and prevents muscle imbalances, and upper body promotes a stronger stride in using your arms to push you forward.

Strength training is also critical to minimize and prevent muscle imbalances that occur between two opposing muscles. When one muscle isn’t strong enough, another will overcompensate to take the load off which then puts additional stress on your joints, ligaments and muscles. This often leads knee pain, lower back pain, hip pain, shin splints, inflammation, chronic tightness, poor posture and more.

For example, if your glutes are not strong enough to support your pelvis as they are intended to do, your back will take the load off your weak glutes then causing undue stress to your lower back potentially causing runner’s knee or IT Band Syndrome. Muscular imbalances will create a host of issues hindering your performance and increasing your risk of injury. Strength training can be done using weights or bodyweight and can also be done in a HIIT-style program which not only reaches muscular hypertrophy, but also increases endurance.


Taking a break from the asphalt may seem counterintuitive but it’s necessary for preventing injury. Repetitive movements, such as running, increase the vulnerability of your joints. Swimming, cycling, yoga and even HIIT training on a gymnastics floor are great ways to limit the impact on your joints. Burn Boot Camp specifically uses a “floating floor” made of thousands of foam blocks to help absorb impact and protect your joints. Incorporating yoga into your recovery days will help mitigate muscular imbalances, strengthen your core, lengthen tight muscles and prepare you for more effective run days.

Don’t train at the expense of your body’s health. Listen to your body and trust the importance of rest and recovery. You will be glad you did once you cross the finish line injury-free!

Ready to give it a try? Try this Burn Boot Camp style workout that you can do anywhere with just your own body weight. To increase intensity, add weight. To decrease intensity, remove the jump and step it out.


Dynamic Warm Up: 3 exercises | Each exercise is performed at 10 reps first round, and then increased by 2 reps with each subsequent round (10,12,14,16 etc) | Climb as high as you can in 5 minutes:

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Body Weight Squat
  • Mountain Climbers (2:1)

Workout: 5 exercises | 60 seconds each | 4 rounds total

  • Speed Skaters
  • Full Burpee
  • Supermans
  • Jump Squats
  • Russian Twists (2:1)

Finisher: 2 exercises | Alternate exercises at 20 reps each | 3 minutes total

  • Pick Ups
  • Plank Ups

Burn Boot Camp is a 45-minute HIIT style workout that focuses on empowering women of all fitness levels. Co-ed camps are offered at select camps. Burn Boot Camp leverages various training styles and formats to keep workouts creative and challenging, while never doing the same workout twice. We use a combination of burst and strength training, as well as combination of body weight movements and equipment. We offer complimentary childcare, nutrition guidance, one-on-one focus meetings with the personal trainer, and a community like no other. For more information, visit us at for the nearest location to you, and to join for free, without obligation, for 14 days! @burnbootcampmanchester @burnbootcampofallonmo