4 Gym Workout Alternatives for Runners

With hot (or cold) weather moving a lot of people indoors, gyms can get pretty packed. So packed, in fact, there may not be a treadmill available to do your planned workout.

If your workout plans are thwarted by taken treadmills, what is the best way to spend your time?

According to Budd Coates, senior director of health and fitness at Rodale, Runner’s World’s parent company, and coach to many Runner’s World staffers, there are two questions to consider: “Are you on a specific training plan?” and “Do you have limited time?” Depending on your answers, Coates’ suggestions are below.

[divider flat]

Training, limited time

Do your intended workout on another aerobic machine. “Try to do whatever you can that is going to be, energy-wise or stress-wise, similar to what the run would have been,” says Coates, a 2:13 marathoner. Coates’ top choice is the elliptical, followed by the bike. To do intervals on a bike, Coates suggests alternating between low resistance in the saddle and turning the resistance up to stand as you pedal. His last choice is the rowing machine. “It’s great because it includes the upper and lower body but it’s also kind of an issue because it includes the upper and lower body,” he says. “It’s a little trickier to equate the effort to actual running.” If a treadmill opens up after you start, feel free to switch over and continue from wherever you left off.


Training, unlimited time

When you have specific goals to achieve on the treadmill and are in no rush, you should ideally leave the gym and come back, or sit and read a newspaper. But if you would rather use the waiting time to maximise your run, Coates advises spending it on a foam roller. “The foam roller is a good way to wake up the muscles and get them going,” he says. “Go over the legs and the lower back – any area that tends to be achy either during or after a run.


Not training, limited time

“If you have no particular plan run-wise, give your body something new to do,” suggests Coates. Get on a new machine. Give strength training a go. Take a class, if your gym offers them. Coates says he uses spare time to try something totally different like a Pilates class. “A lot of times, in classes, you find a weakness that you need to work on,” he says.


Not training, unlimited lime

Days without challenging runs are great opportunities to try out new pre-workout dynamic stretches: knee lifts or heel lifts, for instance. New exercises can cause some physical discomfort so it may be dangerous to push your body at a high level after doing them for the first time. Coates advises cross training on a lower impact machine, like an elliptical, instead. “You do the dynamic stretching and then you’re just circulating blood through the area without creating that pounding of leaving the ground and landing,” he says.

Related Articles