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Boost Your Running Performance: Rowing Secrets for Endurance Athletes

Boost Your Running Performance And Improve Your Mental Health With Rowing

As runners, it can be easy to want to “only run.” But cross-training serves as an important way to help keep you healthy and put less stress on your body. Rowing is a great choice that offers several benefits that will help your running performance. Rowing will not only boost your running performance, it can provide  mental benefits as well!

Especially as it gets colder, we seek indoor activities for cross-training. Cross-training through the winter can help build strength and set you up for a big spring race.

How Does Rowing Boost Your Running Performance?


One of the most significant benefits of rowing for runners is that it is low-impact. We know by now running is tough on joints. Rowing, however, is a full-body workout without the repetitive pounding. This reduced impact means less stress on the knees, hips, and ankles, which is important for injury prevention and recovery periods.

Strength Training:

As mentioned above, rowing is a full-body workout. Unlike running, which primarily engages the lower body, rowing works out the legs, core, back, and arms. Just by rowing once a week, you help build a stronger core and upper body, which is easily forgotten about in runners. How does a stronger core and strong upper body help running? A stronger core helps running posture, and a strong upper body contributes to better arm drive during long runs.

Rowing is Cardio:

Rowing is a great cardiovascular exercise. The key with cross-training is you want to mimic running in effort. If you work hard on the rower, it can help improve oxygen consumption. Because it is a full-body workout, it can be more intense than running. This increased efficiency is great for runners looking to “get the most bang for their cross-training buck” and improve their heart and lung health without adding high mileage.

Flexibility and Mobility:

One of the most important things runners can do is increase their flexibility and mobility, and rowing can help with that. The motion of rowing encourages a big range of movement that can improve overall flexibility. How can enhanced flexibility help runners? It helps translate to better running mechanics and a reduced risk of injuries.

Mental Toughness:

Have you heard the saying running is 80% mental? Rowing also requires mental toughness, some might say even more so. The repetitive nature of rowing and sitting in place can help runners develop resilience. Plus, the ability to maintain a consistent pace on the rower can help translate to better pacing during runs and races.


It’s easy to get bored while doing the same thing day in and day out. Adding rowing into your training routine can break the monotony of training. It provides a different type of challenge that can help keep your training interesting. This isn’t just physically beneficial but also mental. Rowing and cross-training, can provide mental benefits and prevention of burnout.

How to Incorporate Rowing into Your Training

To reap the benefits of rowing, runners don’t need to spend hours on the rower. Short, consistent sessions can significantly enhance running performance. Start with 20-30 minutes of rowing, twice a week, focusing on proper technique to minimize injury risk. Even short rowing sessions, when done consistently, can yield benefits. As you become more comfortable on the rower, consider adding more time.

Like running, proper rowing technique is important to avoid injury. The rowing stroke consists of four phases:

  1. Catch
  2. Drive
  3. Finish
  4. Recovery

You want to have a smooth transition between the phases, maintain a strong core, and make sure you have controlled movements. Faster is not better, and you want your movements to be controlled. Some gyms even have rowing classes that can help you learn proper technique so you will be set up the correct way.

Boost Your Running Performance

In summary, rowing is a great cross-activity for runners of any ability. It can provide a low-impact exercise, full-body workout, and provide mental and physical benefits. Runners who add rowing into their routine may see a reduced rate of injury and less burnout. Consider adding rowing into your running routine today!



Hollie is a runner, hiker, swimmer, residing in California. She has worked in run specialty for nearly 8 years and has fit hundreds of people for shoes. Outside of the running world, she enjoys the general aviation world, her two cats, and spending time with her spouse.