A quick Google search of “cross-training” will bring up two definitions:

  1. “the action or practice of training or being trained in more than one role or skill.
  2. “the action or practice of engaging in two or more sports or types of exercise in order to improve fitness or performance in one’s main sport.”

Whether you are learning a new skill or working your muscles in a new way, cross-training is a benefit not only to your body but to your mind, too, especially in the doldrums of winter.


What makes a hill workout more motivating than the thrill of sledding back down between reps? Bounding to the top knowing that soon you will be zooming down on an inflatable donut for your recovery. Add that to my training plan every week, coach!

As a bonus, climbing the hill in the slick and powdery snow will engage all of the small stabilization muscles in your feet and legs. Strengthening these muscles are important for injury prevention as a runner.

If you have ever tried to pull a child up a sledding hill, I’m sure you’ve felt the burn and your heart rate increase. Don’t discount this as a workout! I think you’ve earned that hot chocolate.


Do you need extra support in your snow boots? We encourage you to stop in for some insoles like Currex or Sole.


A fantastic cardio activity with low impact and allows you to workout outside? Just say yes to snowshoes! There are different styles available, even ones specifically for running in the snow. It can be hard to say good-bye to winter running on the really icy and slippery days, but snowshoes can help you keep going in a new way.

If you really get into it, you can even find snowshoe races (like through snowcrownseries.com) to stay competitive over the winter.

snow shoeing

Did you know Run Away Shoes rents snowshoes? Check out the details here:

Cross Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing is another low impact activity that provides a wonderful aerobic workout. When cross-country skiing, you are not only using your legs, but your arms, too. Your body will strengthen as it adapts to what it takes to move you through the snow. Then, you can take all that new power with you on runs.

Like snowshoeing, you can also find skiing competitions.

Cross country skiing


Perhaps one of the harder winter skills to learn, ice skating (whether with figure skates, hokey skates or speed skates) is still a great way to move your body between runs. There is a greater risk to injury falling on the hard ice, but with risk there is reward, like mastering a new skill or simply having fun skating in circles with your friends.

It’s just good to move your body.

Ice Skating

Sword Fighting

The most unique S is Sword play “fighting”.  Now, how could this possibly be a good cross-training sport? Sport! Yes it’s a sport.  A few months ago I (Ross) reached out to the local HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) Chapter Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association and joined up. The workouts are a combination of strength, techniques, and agility.  

A few things that I have learned to love about the sport are the amount of stabilizing muscles I use.  My shoulders, chest and back have really gotten stronger.  With mixing up my workouts it has made it easier to have fun and get back into shape.  


Sword Fighting

Remember, the more well-rounded athletic person you are the better your running will become.  Runners are notoriously weak since running is very lineal.  That is why cross-training movements are so important. As a disclosure for participating in any new activities: give your body time to adjust, and enjoy yourself as you try something new.

What is your favorite winter activity for staying in shape?

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