6 Exercises Runners Can Do to Stay in Shape (Besides Running)

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It’s no secret that I love running. It’s my thing. I run to celebrate something exciting in life or to sort out my feelings when I’m going through a rough patch.

I run when it is sunny, rainy, cloudy, snowy, humid, dark, and a few times a year, when it is perfect! I run with friends, by myself, in races, along mountain ridges, around the track, and on pavement. Running makes me happy.

But I do other things to stay and shape and while I may not stick with them in the same intensity that I have with running, it is always great to have other activities to fall back.

Physically, they work other muscle groups and build a stronger body. Mentally, they provide my brain with a little stimulation (or sometimes they just make me really appreciate running!).

Strength training

Weight-lifting or body weight exercises are one of the best things to keep all of my muscles groups strong and healthy. A strong core and legs are known essentials for great running.

Strong arms are great for assisting with everything else in my life like carrying all the groceries in one trip or moving heavy file boxes at work.


Aside from strength-training, hiking is my next favorite way to keep in shape besides running. I’m lucky to live near a bunch of great places to hike which is mentally refreshing.

Plus, given the right trails, I can get a serious workout climbing some decent elevation. Hiking is a great complement to running because it works so many similar muscles, but is low impact.


Once runners start running, they often stop walking. Why walk when you can run? For many years, I had those thoughts too.

But when I started training for ultras, time on my feet became an essential part of my training. And I actually found that the mental boost from walking on my lunch break at work or on my rest day was incredibly rewarding.

Sometimes it can be so easy to just run, run, run all the time, but slowing it down a little bit is great for recovery.


Okay, I’ll admit that I always balk about swimming when asked. Mainly because swimming usually means no running and no running usually means injury.

But swimming is actually a really great way to stay in shape and is one of the best alternatives to running.

It is great for the cardiovascular system like running, but actually works all of the body AND is zero impact.


I’m too chicken to go cycling on the roads of Atlanta, but I do have an indoor trainer that doesn’t just serve as a laundry rack.

Cycling is great way to cross-train and build stronger legs without the repetitive pounding of running.

And I happen to actually love climbing on the bike as that can build some serious hill running muscles.


I am super-duper inflexible. And I really like pushing the pace while running. So yoga is something that I force myself to do.

It’s very hard for me to sit still and relax, but sometimes like running, I feel so much better after I’ve done the workout.

Yoga stretches are great for cool downs and full sessions are a great way to get in an extra workout without pushing your body too hard.

Carissa Liebowitz has run the Boston Marathon as well as dozens of marathons and half marathons. You can follow her running adventures on StravaInstagram and her blog.

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