Running Tips: Mixing Up Cardio

One of the great things I have to offer in my little blog here is a different approach to training and one of the things I do a lot of is mixing cardio.  I, of course, am not alone here, but for me it’s an alternative way to build endurance without running five days a week.  The benefits to this are great, and results no joke.  Being pragmatic here is why I mix up my training.  The benefits and how it has helped me grow in my long distance running, and even increased speed in my shorter distance is substantial.

You Need To Run 5 Days A Week Though Right?

False.  When it comes to cardio our heart and lungs don’t really care what kind of workout you do.  A runner will tell you firsthand: When running is what you do, other types of training just can’t compare.  I still struggle with my days on the elliptical or hitting the heavy bag.  Yoga, Cross-fit and strength training all feel like second fiddle to the hell that a good run puts you through, but that’s all mental.

Alternative Cardio Workouts

  • Elliptical – Which is what I do. Because you can pedal both forward and backward, there’s a ton of leg muscle engagement. Alternating between the two will strengthen the knees, providing much-needed knee support. Meanwhile, if you maintain proper form and good posture, your core will work hard to keep you balanced. If you opt to use the handlebars, you’re also giving your upper body a workout.
  • Stationary Bicycle – Stationary cycles will work your glutes, calves, hamstrings, quads, and your shin muscles—the last two being slow to develop in runners. By engaging leg muscles not commonly used while running, you create stronger legs and a more balanced body.
  • Bicycling, swimming, aerobic drills and even sports such as tennis and soccer can keep your cardiovascular training on point while reducing stress on running muscles and giving a break from the impact of hitting the pavement.
  • Stair Climber – The stair climber targets your quads, calves, and glutes, building and strengthening the same muscles you use while walking, jogging, and running. This puts vigorous stair climbing right on par with high-intensity running, building those muscles and adding more power to your runs.

Additionally, increasing longer alternative workouts helps increase your cardio fitness level.  When you mix up your cardio it becomes easy to make this adjustment.  For example, if you’re running 15-20 miles a week, it may be difficult to increase another 5-10 miles. If you add a 10-mile bike ride or 30 minutes on the elliptical with resistance you easy add in that mileage.


Mixing cardio gives your legs and body a break from the heavy impact of running.  It also breaks up the monotony of running every day.  It’s a great tool to use for endurance and distance training.  It may seem like you aren’t getting as tough a workout, but you are  It’s helped my speed on shorter distances and really increased my endurance and strength at the end of runs.  As usual, make adjustments that works best for you, but I highly recommend mixing your training up.

Take a look at my marathon training schedule for the summer and see how much I mix up my training!  Also, feel free to join  “Accountability With Header” .  It is a group I set up to help work on fitness, health and life goals to help you move forward in life.


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