Fitness

How To Start Running and How Cross-Training Will Benefit You

Coach Kristi running in front of a mural

Been thinking of starting to run? Don’t be intimidated. Running is one of the easiest ways to get started with fitness!

A little background on me, you might remember from this post, that I talked about how I started as a dancer and slowly found running. For me, running was an escape. It was therapeutic for me. When you run long distances, you have a lot of time to think. I used this time to build myself up, and eventually loved seeing just how far I could go and how much I could push myself.

But I feel like running is a thing that you either love or you hate.

There are two kinds of people—the ones that spend their whole workout on the treadmill, and the ones that avoid cardio like the plague and focus solely on weight training.

While strength training and cardio both have their benefits, a good mix of the two is actually a really good option.

I mean I absolutely LOVE cardio, but I also think it is important to mix in some good ol’ weight training to increase strength, lean muscle mass, and actually lose fat too.

When I was running often, I injured myself. I was pushing my body past its limits, and it eventually caught up to me. It was during this time that I found strength training, and then eventually cycling. My cross-training not only made me a stronger, but a safer and better runner.

Whether you love strength training and hate cardio (or vice versa) this is the post for you.

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Why You Should Cross-Train

Kristi exercising outside

Cross-training refers to engaging in two or more sports or exercise types to improve your fitness level. So whether you love strength training, or are a cardio bunny, here is why cross-training can benefit you:

1. Burn More Fat

Cardio burns more calories and fat while you’re performing it, but high-rep strength training will help you burn fat and calories even while you’re at rest, because the lean muscle you’ll build. Strength training mixed with cardio and a healthy diet will burn a lot more fat than cardio and diet alone.

2. Prevent Injury

One main cause of injury is overuse (as in my example). Many times by performing the same workouts all the time you fail to work stabilizing muscles. By switching up your workouts you can reduce the repetitive impact on your extremities and reduce the risk of injury.

3. Speed Up Recovery

Likewise, if you are doing the same workout day after day, you don’t always allow your body to rest and recover. Take some days off, and perform other exercises. If you are injured, cross-training can also help maintain a level of fitness, even if you can’t perform your exercise of choice.

4. Build Strength, Flexibility, and Endurance

Strength training, like plyometrics, will increase stride power for a runner. Taking a barre class will help to improve your strength and flexibility, running will improve your endurance, swimming will improve your cardio and help you recover. Different exercises accomplish different tasks and will improve your overall fitness level.

5. Improved Performance

Using different muscle groups will help you reach a higher level of fitness. It will enhance your efficiency, power, and increase training time, to get the best results possible.

Where to Start

For those of you that hate running, or simply don’t know how to get started—you’re not alone. As a coach, I have been able to train a lot of different kinds of people. Some are more experienced runners, while some are total beginners. Some loved running, while others prefer weight training instead.

If you are new to running you shouldn’t go and sign up for a marathon. You should ease into it. Learn the basics. Start small, and work your way up. Hey beginner runners, here is your guide to start running.

Kristi running outside

Run/Walk

Intervals are great. Don’t kill yourself right off the bat. Walk for a minute, then run for three. Or run for a minute, then walk for three. See how much you can handle and don’t overdo it. Listen to your body so you can prevent injury and then you can gradually work up to running more and longer.

Get Good Shoes

This is more important than you can think. Old, or too small of shoes can actually cause injury and can make your run a lot more painful than it needs to be. Go to a specialty running shop, or search online for the perfect pair. I love Altra Running Shoes.

Train Your Brain

There are two parts to training—mental and physical. Physically your body may feel fine, but mentally you may feel like you literally can’t even. That is half the battle. Training your brain takes time, but there are a few things you can do to train your brain. Make a plan, create a playlist, give yourself a reward, wear cute workout clothes, play mind games, break down your goal into smaller more tangible ones. For example: you want to run a mile, so break that down into four quarters and focus on one quarter at a time. Find what works for you and stick with that.

Cross-Train

This was mentioned earlier, but can really make a huge difference in improving your running performance. I love cycling, swimming, and strength training to add to my workout regimen. Working the same muscle groups as you would running will also help to strengthen hip-stabilizing muscles that are so important to prevent injury.

Focus On Your Nutrition

Food is fuel. You can either choose to weigh yourself down, with sugar laden foods that don’t do anything for you, or choose good foods that will keep you energized, healthy, and get you through your workouts. Choose carbs like fruits, vegetables and whole grains; healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and seeds; and protein from fish, eggs, beans, lean poultry, and IdealLean Protein powder.

Practice Patience

You guys, patience has not always been my strong suit, but all good things take time. Positive changes will happen when you are consistently working towards your goals. I was not able to run a triathlon after a week, or even a month. It took a lot of time, effort, dedication, cross-training, and healthy living to get where I wanted to be.

Don’t give up, and just start. Your future is shaped by what you choose to do today. So give it your all, you really won’t regret it.

Kristi stretching, banner about her 15 day challenge




Kristi Monks

Kristi Monks

Triathlon & Running Coach

Kristi Monks is a USAT Certified Triathlon Coach and RCAA Certified Running Coach. She has competed in several marathons and triathlons, including the 2015 Kona Ironman and the Boston Marathon.


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