God, I hate cross training. But I recognize the benefit of doing exercise that isn't running to benefit my running and overall fitness. Over the years, I've tried many things, but nothing ever sticks like the proverbial spaghetti on the wall.
Most people know that I'm a cheapskate, so it shouldn't surprise you that all of these exercises can be done at home with minimal equipment. Here's what I've been doing this year:
This little drill was all the rage a few months ago after Chris McDougall wrote about it for the New York Times. A website popped up and people were challenging each other to see if it made them better runners. I've found that the drill has strengthened my hips and helped me stop kicking myself in the calves when I run. I do the Major exercise in sets of 20 repetitions (n.b., I worked up from the Minor version first). Here's a good video of the exercise.
Taken from Jamoosh's abandoned Hard Core Club, I do a series of single and combination planks. Currently, I'm stuck on two sets per side of combo planks (30 seconds each position) with bookends of forward planks.
This is the only exercise that requires actual exercise equipment. I use either 10 or 20 pounds (sometimes both). I'm up to four sets of 10 with the 20-pounder and three sets of 20 with the 10-pounder.
With two chairs set apart a bit wider than my hips, I do two or three sets of 10.
Good old-fashioned push-ups, usually two or three sets of 10, depending how those chair dips felt.
These are tough after the planks, which is why I save them for last. I do two or three sets of 30. I used to make the mistake of doing these as fast as I could, but I think I get better results from doing them slow and deliberately.
My goal is to complete this routine once a week. It usually takes me 25 to 30 minutes, which is perfect for a workout on an off-day (i.e., from running). Combined with a run, it's an ass-kicker.
Feel free to give my little workout routine a try, and let me know how it works for you. I make the assumption that most of you know what these exercises are, but feel free to ask questions if not. Cheers!