What is actually cross-training? To put it simply, it is a use of another (but similar) sport/discipline that athletes do in the off-season or when they are injured, so another sport is served as a good substitute. The easiest definition is: “Cross-training is athletic training in sports other than the athlete’s usual sport.”
In triathlon, although it includes 3 disciplines, there is a great desire for training other sports. So, let’s see which those are.
Langlauf or cross-country skiing is maybe the best cross-training for triathletes. Cross-country skiing develops very well cardiovascular (read aerobic) abilities, it is useful because legs work similar as in classic running, arms are used a lot and the upper body muscles are pretty well stimulated.Most importantly, you use your all muscles as you would in triathlon in aerobically more demanding way, while the contact with the surface is soft and does not put as much weight on your feet as you would with a classic run. There are 2 types of cross-country skiing – classic cross-country skiing and skate cross-country technique. Both are very useful, but skate is newer, harder and more interesting variant.
MTB or mountain-bike riding is very popular cross discipline for triathletes for many reasons. First, there is the discipline “cross triathlon”, where you ride mountain-bike, so a lot of triathletes occasionally do some cross triathlon race. Also, MTB is used for improving bike riding technique to better manage triathlon bikes, and cadence is always slightly higher with MTB, so it is interesting that it can be used as a means of developing speed and higher cadence. Finally, it can be ridden on interesting landscapes on unpaved roads, so athletes are better able to connect with the nature.
Cyclocross is very similar to MTB and is very interesting because in cyclocross there is a lot of bike ascending and descending, which is very, very useful for triathletes.
Roller skating is also favorite sport for triathletes, and especially for runners because of the lack of “hitting” the ground with their feet like in classic run.
Aqua jogging is very popular with the injured or athletes more prone to injury, but it also should not be ignored the good effect on the cardiovascular system. When increasing running mileage, this sport can be extremely useful and makes it “easier” to add mileage. Running in clean (running) shoes in the water just above the waist is ideal, but options with more water or an aqua jogging belt are also great.
SUP or stand up pedaling and kayaking or similar are also great options, especially in the warmer period of the season. Strengthening your upper body muscles and developing balances are fantastic for triathletes and runners engaged in this activities.
It is easy to notice that there are many options for cross-training, there is just a need to choose the right activity. Considering the goal of cross-training (fun, rehabilitation, better cardiovascular performance, etc.) athletes in cooperation with the trainer can make a good choice. Mowing away from your own sport is also mentally beneficial, especially for top athletes. In any case, fun is guaranteed.