“The Beast”…My Favorite Cross Training Exercise

First Step

“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps-we must step up the stairs.” –Vance Hanover

There is nothing I like more than to start my day off with than a run.  However, a few days a week I skip running and head to the gym.  Cross training is a very important part of running and especially marathon training.  It helps strengthen muscles groups that you may or may not use when you run and increases your aerobic endurance.  I attribute my lack of injury through the years (knock on wood!) to my commitment to keeping up with cross training as well.

Years ago when I started training for my first marathon, our trainer would take us into the gym and we would lift weights.  We did a lot of lunges and squats, and we also did cardio.  (Cardio other than running.) This is when I was first introduced to what we all like to call “The Beast.” I am referring to the stair climber that looks like an escalator. That machine has given me so many hours of intense cardio, I could not even begin to count.  There was 6 months between my first two marathons and I know that building my intensity and duration on the Beast had a lot with me shaving over 20 minutes off of my time at the second marathon.  You have to start with as many minutes that you can safely do, even if it is only 10 or 15 and build on not only your time but also your intensity level.

The Beast- A Cross Training Frenemy Here are a few simple benefits the Stair Climber can have on your running and overall fitness level:

  1. Injury prevention due to the strengthening of other muscle groups.
  2. Intense calorie burn.
  3. Strengthens legs (and butt) muscles.
  4. Increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance (which also helps with hills).
  5. And my personal favorite…. You can actually read a magazine or book while getting an intense and sweaty cardio workout! (It’s a great time for me to catch up on my People magazines or talk with a friend on the stepper next to me!)

I wanted to share this link to a great article that was in Runner’s World earlier this year:


It goes more in depth about why stair climbing is a great workout for runners. (Stair climbing is also a great option for days when weather doesn’t cooperate with your running plans.)

Remember…start with short times and low levels if you have to….but increase as you can and you will definitely notice a difference! Real stairs or bleachers are of course beneficial as well.

So go tackle the Beast 🙂 Happy stepping!

Cross Training is Key, One Step at a Time

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