Winter Cross-Training

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What is your favorite form of cross-training during the winter months?

Bree Lambert

Silicon Valley, California

Since I live in the South San Francisco Bay Area running is possible year round. We don’t get any snow and even winter mornings are not too cold to get out and log a few miles. BUT…I think it is good to pull back from running and mix it up.

That being said, I enjoy a good Spin class. I have been doing it for years. It’s easy on the joints and when done properly provides a great cardio workout. Impact is minimal and you can really work on leg strength by playing with the resistance. A good instructor will know how to mix things up with good music to keep you entertained.

I also like to get in the pool. I will often do a combination of water running and swimming. Both are excellent ways to get in some great upper and lower body work without any impact. For those of you prone to injury this allows you to keep moving joints, increase blood flow, expand the lungs without the pounding. Some times I’ll just grab a buoy place it between my legs and swim using my upper body only. Feels good to let the legs float.

Ashley Hunter Arnold

Asheville, North Carolina
Honestly, I mostly just run. That being said, I really want to get into cross country skiing. From the little bit that I’ve done, I’ve really found it to be an excellent strength builder!

Sophie Speidel

Charlottesville, Virginia
I like to take 2-3 weeks off from running around Christmas, and use New Years Day as a symbolic “first day of training” depending on what I’m training for. This helps me feel fresh and excited about the new training cycle instead of tired and burned out than if I hadn’t taken time off. That said, I love to cross-train: I get into the gym and strength train by following a few tried-and-true workouts or take a new class at one of the many new workout gyms in town. I definitely get in the pool for a swim or pool run at least twice a week in the winter. In fact, on the recommendation of a recent review from Ultrarunning Magazine, I just purchased The Deep End of the Pool Workouts to beef up my pool running skills. It’s a great resource and I got a very challenging workout from a 30-minute pool run last week!

Tara Holland

Squamish, British Columbia
Nordic skiing, hands-down! It’s a full body workout, and not crazy expensive. I used to have the luxury of living right beside an urban trail that ran between my house and the university where I worked, and in really snowy times I would ski all the way to my office and back – possibly my favourite work commute ever! It’s an amazing sport, excellent cardiovascular cross-training for running, and gets you out enjoying the winter weather.

Anna Wetzel

Chicago, Illinois
My favorite cross-training during the winter months is both cross country and downhill skiing. I love cross country skiing because it gets my heart rate up and allows me to cover a lot of ground. It satisfies my nature fix while also proving to be a great workout. Downhill skiing is also an awesome exercise as it works the rotational muscles that do not work as much in running. It requires excellent core and hip control, while allowing you to channel your inner daredevil.I also enjoy a vinyasa flow yoga when I decide to practice some indoor exercise. I find that it helps me stay ahead of areas of my body that are prone to injury. Yoga helps me pick up on asymmetry that may predispose me to risk if I continue to train. It also slows me down a bit as most of my sports of choice are fast paced.

Maria Dalzot

Bellingham, Washington
Hot Yoga!

Amanda Roe

Moundsville, West Virginia
I regularly go snow-shoeing up at Mt. Hood, but my favorite is when we get snow here in Portland! I get the best workout going sledding with my kids. Talk about hill repeats. Call me crazy, but I end up doing more bike commuting to work during the winter months just to fit more exercise into my week. Also, in the past 2 years, I have discovered Primal Yoga, and I love how strong I feel from it. It definitely carries me through the winter!

Heidi Kumm

Summit County, Colorado
I have a splitboard setup + a pair of snowshoes, both are great excuses to get outside when the snow has taken over the trails. Obviously, the splitboard/AT setup requires a pretty big investment [+ avalanche training…please!] + I slowly invested over the course of about three seasons [season 1: take avalanche course + snowshoe with snowboard strapped to my back, season 2: buy splitboard + use improvized bindings, season 3: upgrade to level two avalanche training + buy splitboard-specific bindings]. I’m sure a similar process could happen with AT/backcountry skies. As for the snowshoes — it’s like hiking…in really deep snow with duck feet. You’ll find stabilizing muscles you didn’t even know existed! Any trails that are open to hiking are also often open to at least snowshoeing + other trail users tend to love it when someone on skis or snowshoes track it down to hike-able trail!

Hillary Allen

Boulder, Colorado
In the winter months I like to get strong! So that means less running and time in the weight room. I don’t do long runs at all, most long hours outside are spent on skis. Ski touring and ski mountaineering are my favorite activities in the winter. I don’t do races, but I do get out as often as I can to explore in winter. I also snowshoe!

Katelynn Wagner

Newland, North Carolina
I am partial to cycling as my favorite form of cross-training since I am also an ultra cyclist. But I only got into the sport for its cross-training benefits when I had a serious bout with plantar fasciitis. It really helps build the muscles I use for big climbs when running and it is so much easier on my joints (not to mention it really makes the booty pop.) During the warm months I cycle the 16 miles to and from work, and in the winter I hop on a stationary bike in the gym. The stationary bike, though boring, gives me a little more bang for my time since I can crank up the resistance and make the entire workout uphill if I want. It is always good to even out your cross-training with other things, but the bike is definitely my favorite.

Erin Brown

Richmond, Virginia
I love cross training all year long, and where I live, we don’t get much snow, so my routine pretty much stays the same. However! For cross training I love running stairs, taking spin classes and doing the Nike App workout which is FREE! And offers lots of high intensity training workouts, low intensity and some solid stretch workouts.

Clare Gallagher

Boulder, Colorado
SKIMO! Short for ski mountaineering, with the skinny skis. Read about it here. Start saving now and get yourself a setup if you live near hills and snow!

Krissy Moehl

Bow, Washington
Strength training is super important year round. I’ve found that as I get older and add more miles and years to my body I am more durable because of the added strength years of movement have added. To stay injury free I am 100% convinced that my weekly (minimum) fitness class at Trailhead Athletics is what keeps everything together. I try to add at least one more day a week of dynamic movement and weight training to the mix. During the winter, if I’m not running as much, I like to focus on strength training (2-4 days a week) to create an awesome base to work from once I pick the miles up again in the spring. The keys to the Trailhead program are proper form, sport specific workouts, and dynamic movements to challenge and strengthen the body in all plains.

Katie Grossman

Wrightwood, California
I have long called winter “quad growing season,” and my usual means is via snowshoeing. For the steep terrain out here in the San Gabriels, I use a snowshoe/crampon hybrid – as I’m usually climbing and dealing with icy snow vs. powder, (and an ice axe, of course). Besides it being a killer workout (try 2,000 vertical feet in a mile), I love that winter allows me to take new lines up mountains that I love. I am also learning and loving the ski-mountaineering thing, but am on a few year process of feeling educated and comfortable enough to head into the backcountry. I’m excited to continue practicing on our ski runs (I go early morning, before they open) and fire roads here this season, as well as continue to take additional avalanche and winter mountaineering courses. It’s really exciting to learn a new sport and mode of traveling in the mountains – I often forget that I’m technically working out.

Tara Warren

Ogden, Utah
Our mid-elevation trails are runnable through the winter. There aren’t any peaks to climb, but the main trails are lovely and snow-packed. However, I try to decrease my miles and add a little more yoga, skiing and indoor bike classes.

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Trail Sisters

Trail Sisters

Trail Sisters contributors are a group of inspirational, educational and empowering Women who share a love for the outdoors and trail running. We come from all over and share a bond through our love of the sport.

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