Top 7 Sports to Enhance your Running

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Running is one of the most popular sports, and humans have a natural drive to run (Christopher McDougall argues this in his book “Born to Run”), it’s a good idea to mix things up every and now and then.

‘Spice’ up your running routine with other sports

It’s true what they say, ‘variety is the spice of life’.

Though running will probably be the staple in your exercise ‘diet’, doing other sports occasionally adds ‘seasoning’, the spice, to your routine. Ever put pepper on your eggs? Or a bit of paprika in a chilli? These dishes are tasty on their own, but really come to fruition with a bit of seasoning.

Dabbling in other sports will enhance the quality of your running routine. Give something else a go!

Why not just stick to running?

1) New sports keep things fresh– though running is an exciting, fast paced sport everyone can enjoy. Though having it as the only source of exercise in your life can lead to slight boredom and predictability. Not ideal.
Playing new sports alongside a running regime keeps things fresh; ever tried adding a new seasoning to your favourite dish, to find it tasted even better and more interesting than before?

2) Participate in different types of event
Doing other sports like cycling and swimming, means you can enter different types of events, like triathlons (cycling, running and swimming).
You could take part in competitions, tournaments, races, weekly matches and so on.

3) Learning other sports is useful – Becoming knowledgeable in the rules and regulations of other sports can be incredibly useful in life. Think of team building exercises at work, going on holiday with friends or family, getting used to participating in new activities with different rules you must learn rather than just spectating (helpful during group exercises at interviews).

4) Develop your movement– Partaking in other sports builds and develops your range of movement, making you more flexible, less likely to be injured, and feel like you can function to your best in day to day life.
For example, swimming makes use of the back muscles and cricket and rugby strengthens the arm muscles; both of value to a successful runner.

5) Meet new people– Though running is highly sociable with clubs, events and weekly runs – like parkrun – branching out allows you to meet more people. Whether you’re having a kick about with some mates down the park, walking with a neighbour or even join a cricket club to supplement your running, having a larger network of friends and connections is always helpful i.e. socialising, knowing about opportunities, being genuinely interested in hearing people’s stories. You could even meet a future spouse through another sport.

Good sports to add to your running regime

1. Swimming

For you water lovers, swimming is a popular means of diversifying a running programme. To swim, you must propel yourself through a body of water (a swimming pool or the sea, for instance) using your arms and legs. Depending on your proficiency, desired intensity and reasons for swimming, there are four popular swimming styles: breastbone, backstroke, butterfly and arm crawl.

According to The Telegraph, swimming is the UK’s most popular sport with 2.5 million people participating regularly.

If you can’t swim, but have always wants to, lessons can usually be booked at your local leisure centre or gym (if there’s a swimming pool).

Where? Leisure centre, gym, seaside, private pools.

How often?
45 minutes to 1 hour twice a week, alongside your usual running

What will I need? Swimming shorts or a swimsuit, goggles, a towel.

Calories burned:
450 every 45 minutes of front crawl (120-pound person)

Swim in the evening- Swimming in the evening can be a relaxing way to end a stressful, action packed day. Swim for 45 minutes in a style appropriate for you, then shower, head home and enjoy your evening.
Invite friends- Going swimming with friends is great fun. Challenge each other in races, catch up on recent events and play some swimming games i.e. treasure hunt of riding foam rafts (if they’re available).
Family day to the beach- Take the family down to the seaside and go for a swim in the sea. Make a day of it and – most importantly – make memories.

Events: There are plenty of open water Swimming events you can take part in across the country. Try your hand at varying distances of either 5K, 1500M, 3 or even swim around an island. You could even enter a triathlon which starts with a swim, then a segment of biking, followed by a run. To find swimming events, check out

2. Cycling


Cycling is an ideal sport to combine with running. It's very low impact, so if you have a minor running injury like shin splints you can go for a cycle to stay fit.
Cycling is especially popular amongst runners who participate in triathlon events. Triathlons combine swimming, cycling and running.


Cycling requires use of a bicycle to travel from one place to another. A bicycle has – as the name suggests – two wheels, support a frame with a seat attached, where the rider sits too manually power the bike by pedalling
Cycling is immensely popular globally, with 1 billion people regularly using a bicycle for leisure, sport, travel and fitness reasons.
Getting a road bike is a fantastic investment to supplement a strong running routine.

Where? A range of places. Different types of bike exist for different locations. For roads and other paved surfaces, use a road bike (recommended for fitness). For gravelled slopes and trails use a mountain bike. When you’re travelling with limited storage space i.e. on way to work, get a folding bike. A touring bike is good for general A to B transport.

How often?
2 times a week for 1 hour at a time is enough to enhance a stable running programme.

What do I need? Road bike, cycling helmet, cycling jersey, shorts, eyewear (goggles/ performance glasses)
Calories burned: 250 for 1 hour at 12MPH (120-pound person)

Countryside- Cycling is a great opportunity to explore rural areas where you live. Plan a route, take a backpack with lunch and supplies and go exploring.

Hills- Nothing will test your determination than pedalling up a steep hill for the first time. Persist and get up the hill to strengthen your legs and core to give you an edge when you encounter a hill on your runs.

: There are plenty of events in the UK and all around the world. Typically ranging from 25 to 150 miles, you can compete, raise money for charity or cycle for exercise and fun. Go to to find out more.
Cycling is the second discipline required during a triathlon, culminating in the much-loved running.

3. Football

Millions of people go on about it all the time. Whether it’s the premier league team, a local club, your child’s school football team, or the latest version of FIFA, football is everywhere. It’s a brilliant sport to add into your running routine.

Modern (association) football, the world’s most popular sport, was created in England in the 19th century and initially used an inflated pig’s bladder for the ball. Thankfully, the game has come a long way since then. The game features two teams of 11 players, who work together, using their feet (besides goalkeepers and for throw ins) to put the ball into the opposing teams net or score a ‘goal.’

Where? Down the local park, a recreational open space, a playground, by the beach.

How often?
Twice a week. 45 minutes- 1-hour sessions.

What do I need? Football, football trainers or boots, sportswear.

Calories burned:
260 calories for every 35 minutes for a 155-pound adult.

Invite your mates for a kickabout down the park, join a team and play in league (usually on a Sunday), bond with a family member by encouraging them to join a team then train with them.

Being part of a team often means competing in league matches once a week.
You could join a 5-a-side league team for fast paced shorter games on a smaller pitch.

4. Golf


A golfer hits the golf ball across a scenic, green landscape.
Golf is slow paced, strategic and requires a lot of patience. It’s a fantastic sport to compliment your running.

Probably the least strenuous sport on the list, Golf is a strategic, slow paced game where you must use a club to strike a golf ball into different holes on a course. There are loads of different courses, meaning golfers need to adapt to new situations and navigate new terrains on a regular basis which develops critical thinking and flexibility skills.

However, unlike other ball games the objective is to have the lowest score at the end. Whoever takes the fewest shots to place the ball in the hole, essentially has the most skill.

Walking to the next hole after a shot is extremely good for fitness, and varied terrain (slopes, hills, sandpits) strengthens leg muscles. Ideal for a runner.

Where? A golf courses. Find one near you using the AA’s searching tool: You will be required to pay a fee, usually around £10-£20 depending on the course length and unique club rates.

How often? Once every week or two weeks. More times if you want too.

What do I need? Golf clubs, golf shoes, golf gloves, golf balls, tees.

Calories burned:
According to Golf Monthly,720 calories burned for briskly walking a 9-hole 2.5 K course carrying your club bag

Take work clients and colleagues out for a challenging game to help establish rapport and build a relationship.
Join a local Golf club. Meet new people, play once a week and enjoy the outdoors on a regular basis.

When you’re reasonably skilled, enter a golf open (tournament) to compete.

5. Tennis 

Tennis improves hand-eye coordination, agility and physical fitness. A perfect sport to play alongside running.

Tennis is a fantastic sport.  scored game where players use rackets – with a handle to grip and a woven cord surface – to strike a tennis ball over the net. The ball must land within the designated box area for it to be a valid strike. Tennis is good for building quick reaction times, stamina (running to the ball to strike it back), arm strength and accuracy skills. Additionally, tennis hones your agility and makes you nimble.

Watching one of the four yearly grand slam tournaments will make you laugh, cry and fall in love with tennis as a fun side-sport to running. When they’re on, watch the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon (England) and the US Open.

Where? Most towns and cities have tennis courts. Find one near you here:

How often? Twice a week for 45 minutes to 1 hour. More if preferred.

What do I need? Tennis racket, tennis ball, tennis trainers (general sport trainers will be okay if you have limited funds).

Calories burned:
360 for 1 hour of moderate practice (150-pound person)

Doubles with friends- Bring three friends with you and split into 2 teams for a doubles match. This team game will require you and a partner to work together to score as many points as possible; great for bonding, teamwork, communication and having fun.

Ball machine- If you can access one (best bet would be a club), they’re great for training solo. Loads them up, place them on the other side of a net, then return balls as the machine ‘serves’ them to you, mimicking a player. To make it fun, record how many serves you can return in one go then try and beat your record.

Using a wall- For solo practice, find a wall (it could be any good wall or a club’s professional practice wall) – and hit the ball against the wall then return it. You’ll need good footwork, concentration and stamina abilities for this exercise.

Events: Whatever your skill, age or motivation, there’s a tennis tournament for you. Choose from recreational, team, league and tournament competitions to awaken your competitive side.
Find a tennis tournament here:

6. Cricket

Second only to Football in global popularity, cricket is the epiphany of a classic bat and ball game.

Two teams of eleven take it in turns to bowl and beat the cricket ball against one another. Behind the batter is a wicket – a set of three stumps with two bails (thin pieces of wood) on top.

The stumps are protected by the batsman; if the bails are knocked off the batsman is out for that inning. When the batsman hits the ball and starts scoring ‘runs’, they leave their wicket vulnerable to the other team hitting the wicket.

One team bowls the ball to the designated batter, who attempts to strike the ball as far away as possible. The aim is to hit the ball as far away as possible, so the batter can run between the two stumps to score as many ‘runs’ as possible

Each turn is called an ‘inning’. The objective of each team is to maximise the number of runs they get, and reduce their opponents runs (by quickly returning the ball to the bowling area).

Cricket is one of the best sports to play alongside a running routine. It develops hand-eye coordination, sprinting skills (between wickets) and endurance (cricket can a long game)

Where? Cricket pitches or a local park with a plastic cricket set.
A quick Google of ‘Cricket Pitches Near Me’ will find one.

How often?
Twice a week, 45 minutes to 1 hour (or more, depending on preference)

What do I need? Bat, ball, polo shirt, wickets, protective equipment including abdomen guard, cup box, leg pads. If you’re using a plastic set, you will only need a bat, pall and wickets.

Calories burned: 350 calories burned for 1 hour (150-pound person).

 Family fun day- Connect with your family over a fun, entertaining game of cricket. Get your siblings, parents, children, spouse, cousins and other relatives together on a recreational space, split everyone into teams and enjoy a pleasant game of cricket with the family. If some family members don’t know each other that well, put them on the same team so they interact and connect with each other.

Join a club- Whatever your level of expertise, there should be a club to join. Getting involved in a club means you have more reason to participate regularly, meet new people, hone your technique and will likely – if you compete – travel to new places (other teams grounds).

Joining a cricket club often means an opportunity to compete in a league, or in ‘friendly’ matches against other teams.

7. Walking

The child of running, walking is possibly the most common mode of human transport. We walk around the house, to work, on a night out, around town, through the local park. You could say humans mainly use cars or trains, but first you must walk to these modes of transport. Walking is an attractive option as it is low intensity, different to running in the sense there’s always one foot on the ground at all ties. Average walking pace is 3mph, and you’re unlikely to break too much of a sweat doing it.

Where? Anywhere.

How often? 30 minutes of walking a day is a powerhouse for your running routine; it keeps blood flowing; the body working effectively and builds stamina.

What do I need? Trail walking shoes for natural walks (woodlands, meadows, fields), trainers for everyday urban walks.
Asics and Brooks make decent and affordable walking shoes.

Calories burned: 75-100 per half hour (120-pound person at 3mph)

Ideas: Nature- a local woodland, conservation park, by the river. Walks by nature promote creativity, happiness and reduce anxiety.
Morning/ evening walks- Chuck a podcast or music on and go for a 15-30-minute stroll in your local neighbourhood. It’s great for enhancing a running routine and is a good time to think.

Events: Sponsored charity walks around the country always of year. Enter, alone or with friends, and raise money for charity.

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