Runners can improve training by balancing with yoga and other fitness activities.

What Is Balanced Training for Runners?

If you’re a runner, you know that it takes dedication to increase your distance, speed, and endurance. And of course, if you’re running the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon next month, you’re deep into your training regimen right now.

But many runners get so focused on running that they neglect other aspects of fitness. This can result in imbalance, since you’re only working certain parts of your body. Here are a few of the other things I do besides running, and why.

Cycling and Spinning

Bicycling is a good all-around cardio workout similar to running. And many people prefer spin classes since they provide a concentrated workout that’s easy to schedule around work. Either one is a good complement to running since it builds strength in your legs, hips, and back while taking a load off your feet. Here are some other sports to try this time of year that provide a full-body workout include soccer and surfing.

Weight Training

One of the best and easiest ways to make sure you’re building all-around strength and endurance.

Yoga and Tai Chi

Both of these are really helpful for flexibility and balance. Yoga is a gentle way to stretch without much risk of injury. Sometimes when you really slow it down, which you do with Tai Chi and yoga, you become more body aware. You figure out what your body’s about, what it needs.


It’s important to stretch, but it’s actually not a good idea to do it all in one bout. Muscles are like rubber bands; the tissue can get all stretched out but you don’t necessarily develop increased flexibility. The best thing is to stretch a bit at a time all day. Most of us sit for the majority of the day, anyway, which isn’t good for us. Try to stand up once an hour and stretch your arms and back for a few minutes, or bend over and touch your toes. Or you can even stay at your desk and just stretch your arms, or lean forward and stretch your hips without getting up.

Anything that you enjoy

Any fast-moving physical activity that you love to do is great because it’s highly motivating. I know a lot of people who love to dance — so dance! Interactive video games work great too, because you can do them at home. I find if I keep it varied and keep it fun, I’m a lot less likely to skip exercise and sit on the couch.

Brian Soo is a senior physical therapist at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center who works inpatient, outpatient, and in sports medicine.  A recreational runner for many years, Brian also bicycles, plays racquetball, and most importantly, paddles on a 20-person Dragon Boat team that competes internationally and practices three times a week. He also enjoys active video games and believes they can be an excellent complement to an overall fitness regime.