How much cross training is too much? (Read 327 times)

James Logan

    I am a college distance runner preparing for cross country. I am running 50-60 miles a week and building up to 90-95 by the end of the summer. I have been cross training 3 times per week for 40 minutes to supplement running and I am wondering whether increasing that would help or hurt? How much cross training is too much and what are the negative effects of it? And if you could cite your sources that would be great! Thanks!


      Your primary sport is running.  Your cross training should support your running rather than supplement it.  More than is sufficient to support your running is too much.  That is an individual amount.  It is up to you and your coach to find the mix that is right for you.



      2/3rds training

        Anecdotal and somewhat related...


        I used to be much more into MTB riding and racing than running.  Two years back I was watching a world cup level MTB race and they interviewed one of the coaches for the team that has one of the best riders in the world.  They asked about his training schedule and the coach claimed that he broke his training time about evenly into thirds; one third riding road and trails, one third running, and one third weight training.  Now to a lot of folks who consider themselves primarily runners, spending only a third of training time running sounds crazy.

        James Logan

          Very helpful thank you! But what exactly is the difference between supporting and supplementing?

          Feeling the growl again

            Very helpful thank you! But what exactly is the difference between supporting and supplementing?


            Supporting:  Doing things to make you stronger in areas that running does not, which decreases the likelihood of injury and indirectly helps your running.


            Supplementing:  Makes you run faster by doing things other than running.


            In most cases, cross training is supporting.  There are instances it can be supplementing, like when winter prevents you from running what you would like so you XC ski instead.


            What is too much?  When the recovery prevents you from running as you should.  Running is your primary objective.


            In college running XC and track, I lifted a lot but it was upper body and core.  Very little lower body.  Why?  Because that could compromise my running training.  Upper body and core helped me without hurting my run training.

            "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


            I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills



              Thank you for sharing the information.


                It's important to remember that you can't separate your total training training load into running vs. cross training. It all ads up to a one load of stress you're putting on your body. You also can't separate the mental stress in your life into a separate category. If you're under a lot of high mental stress, the hormonal stress ads to the training load. If you're going to up your volume to 90+miles per week, tread very carefully. I suggest getting a heart rate monitor and doing a run every few weeks at an aerobic heart rate like 70% MHR or an MAF, and track whether or not that speed is improving at that same heart rate. If you up your mileage to 90 miles, and your speed at an aerobic heart rate is not improving or getting slower, then it's highly probable you're doing too much, and are heading for a break down. Add to this the awareness of how your body feels. If you're getting nagging injuries or getting sick a lot, then it's probable your total training load is too much, and have already begun to break down. If your speed at the aerobic HR is improving steadily, and you feel healthy, then your total training load is perfect. If 60-70 miles per week is keeping you progressing, then there's no need to up to 90 because you think more would mean more progress. Stay with your sweet spot of progress and good health. Nudge up the load slowly. Good luck!


                I look my best blurry!

                  I have at times done quite a bit of cross training and seen huge benefits from it.  Consult with your coach and make sure easy days or rest days stay that way.  Recovery is extremely important and overtraining with cross training will be a detriment to your running.

                    You don't say what you're doing for cross training, but if you're doing 40 minutes a week of something continuous, easing off on that as you up your mileage, then adding the cross training load back on might be a more gradual way of adding the running. Something to talk over with your coach.


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