3 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Running Without Running

by Heather

I had my one little pity post, and now it’s time to move on to bigger & better things. Ok, maybe not bigger & better- but small & positive.

It’s been 2 & 1/2 months since I’ve been able to really work out- I keep wondering to myself, where in the world will I be when I can start again? It’s time to something to set myself up for the best return to running as possible.

Cross-training is always a great option to keep up cardiovascular endurance when you can’t run, but running is all about the cardiovascular system.

Some other areas you can work on to improve your running:


Not only does being flexible keep your hamstrings from screaming after a run, it helps your body recover faster by improve blood flow. Increasing your range of motion makes you a more efficient runner, and lets you focus on other things like getting up that hill! Runners are notorious for having extremely tight hamstrings- especially men.



A strong core helps keep your body aligned properly which helps prevent injury and allows you to have maximum power through your stride.

core strength

Strengthening your lower body may seem redundant, but running tends to use your biggest muscles, and lets the little ones get away with slacking off. Focusing on lower body strength exercises like lunges & squats can help you really focus in an those ever-important leg muscles.

You may not use your arms to run, but having upper body strength helps you run with good form. Plus, if your arms don’t get tired, that extra energy can go into your running, not holding your arms up.


Improving your balance can help you run smoother, and therefore moving forward with less energy. Balance is important since you’re constantly switching from one leg to another, but it’s also important in dealing with uneven terrain or obstacles you may come across.

tree pose

Whether you’re running or not running now, focusing on these 3 areas can help improve your running efficiency, improve recovery, and prevent injury.

Looks like I’ll be doing some stretching, strength training, and balancing acts this week. 😉

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman August 23, 2010 at 9:51 am
I love this post. I too had a huge pity party with my injury but I've found that strength training and working on flexibility (and some really mild cardio) help me stay active without doing harm. Without them I might go nuts.
Candice @ ChiaSeedMe August 23, 2010 at 9:56 am
Great tips girl! These are all three things I definitely try to focus on even when I'm in the midst of training. I need to do them even more though because they're so important and can totally revolutionize the running experience. I hope you're able to get back with it soon!
Nichole August 23, 2010 at 9:56 am
This are fantastic tips. It's important to work the core and take it easy from all that pavement pounding. I have found swimming is another great all over workout when I'm not running.
Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life August 23, 2010 at 11:02 am
What a cool post!
Matt August 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm
Make sure you post your workouts!
Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans August 23, 2010 at 12:31 pm
I agree that these areas are really important for a runner or anyone who wants to be physically fit. I try to incorporate regular stretching and core work to make sure my form is good and to attempt to stay injury free.
Sana August 23, 2010 at 12:57 pm
When I was injured, I would often have major pity parties on my blog, but it helped me feel good!! Kudos to you for taking a positive step!
Dorry August 23, 2010 at 1:01 pm
This is a great reminder! I know I often feel like cardio is crucial but in reality, there are many other things to focus on when you can't necessarily do cardio. I had a minor injury from running at the beginning of the summer and it forced me to focus on patience and slow down a bit. I definitely turned to yoga. :)
Hillary August 23, 2010 at 1:24 pm
Great reminders! I enjoy adding strength and stretching to my running routine. Now, that I no longer dance regularly, I don't work on balance nearly as often. Yoga here I come!
Tina August 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm
Running or not those are 3 things that need to be incorporated into every fitness routine. It's so important to have a well-rounded approach to workouts and health. Great post!
Karyn August 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm
i think that everyone can benefit from this post no matter if they're injured or not! thanks for sharing it :)
Lisa August 23, 2010 at 2:20 pm
Another way to improve running is CYCLING! When I was training for Reach the Beach (55 mile bike ride I did in May) I noticed that my running increased a great deal. I was suddenly a lot faster!
Caitlin @ Right Foot Forward August 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm
Great advice! Those are three things that I probably should be doing even when I can run. Thanks!
Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg August 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm
I remember when I trained for my first half, all I did was run, and I was so surprised by how quickly I lost my strength-- it made me realize how important it is to keep up strength training, even if running is your main focus!
Maddy August 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm
Excellent tips, and I'm glad I've got all those covered with my pilates/yoga/weights! Thanks!
kilax August 23, 2010 at 4:14 pm
My legs ALWAYS feel so tight! I would love to be more flexible. You'll have to share your tips! :)
annelies August 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm
Heather- thanks for posting these tips! I find that posture is really important, so the balance part is probably the one I try to work on the most through sun salutations in yoga. I remember a yoga teacher telling us that when you're anxious to try and go into the yoga position that gives you the most sense of power and this really works for me.
Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards) August 24, 2010 at 6:29 am
This is great. I used to be flexible (dancer) but after years of running and strength training and no dancing my muscles are TIGHT. I used to do splits no prob, now I barely touch my toes! I think this is probably related a bit to my knee and IT band woes that I have been having... I am vowing now to concentrate more time on stretching!!!

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