For strength-training savants, cardio can seem like a necessary evil.

Listen to some guys around the gym and they make it sound like taking a mere lap around the block can eat away at your precious muscle or whittle your body into a marathoner's gazelle build.

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“If you want to be a runner, you need to be an athlete, too,” says Chris Bennett, a Nike Run Club Global Head Coach.

"And if you can become a stronger athlete, you'll become a stronger runner, meaning it'll be tougher for you to get injured." Running is a full-body activity, so the stronger your core, stability, and mobility are, the better.

What's more, every mile you run is a part of your story, Bennett says.

Journaling can seriously help you hit your fitness goals.

“We all have an 'easy' pace, a 'strong' pace, and a 'blazing-fast' pace,” Bennett says.

Pretty much anywhere you live, you’ll find roads, trails, flats, and hills to train on. As long as you can measure out, estimate, or time your sprints, you can do speed (or "track") workouts on any level ground.

And, believe it or not, you can even run a marathon without sacrificing your hard-earned physique.) If you’ve never run more than a mile (and that was to pass gym class in high school), you need to start gradually, even if you’ve got excellent endurance from Cross Fit or MMA training.

Your legs will need to acclimate to the repetitive pounding motion of road or trail running.

If you want to go one step up, a great tracker or wearable can clue you in on important metrics like sleep, resting heart rate, and running dynamics.

Some trackers, like Garmin's Forerunner 935, offer a holistic look at your training by tracking how restorative your sleep was, how taxing a workout was (along with an estimated recovery time to let you know when your body will be primed and ready to tackle another intense session), whether you're overtraining (if your resting heart rate is unusually high compared to other days' metrics), and what your running dynamics are like (if you tend to overstride, which puts you at risk for joint injuries, like runner's knee).

“Do a little system check during those last stages of a run to identify many of the things you’re doing (or not doing),” Bennett says.