Cross Training

I have a confession to make.

Sometimes, I skip my cross-training days.

Now, that isn’t to say I don’t sometimes skip my run days too. I mean, stuff happens, sometimes I’m too busy, too tired, whatever the excuse of the day may be. But I tend to be harder on myself (and ask K to be hard on me) if I miss a run day. Missing a cross-training day sometimes seems… okay. As if it’s optional.

Let’s back up a bit. In case you didn’t know, I’m using Hal Higdon’s awesome novice half-marathon training program. I used it for the Cleveland Marathon half, and I’m going through it again to prep for the River Run in the fall. It’s a great program, which has you do shorter training runs throughout the week, and a steadily-increasing long run every Sunday. It also works in a couple days for strength, which I love. And then there’s the cross. A choice between a short run and cross-training on Wednesday, and a longer period of cross on Saturday.

Hal doesn’t say exactly what kind of cross you need to do. The main point is to give your joints and normal running muscles a chance to take a break from the beating they get when running. So I figured, pretty much a rest day, right?

Until I skipped this past Saturday. My long run was finally a non-trivial distance, at five miles. And when I got my shoes on to run that Sunday, it felt like it had been forever.

It kind of had been. When I looked back at my schedule, I realized my last training run was on Thursday, and then Friday was rest. The point of the cross-training, I then realized, isn’t to work any specific muscle groups. One purpose is that it still trains your cardiovascular endurance. Keeping your heart rate up for long periods of time isn’t easy, and it’s still possible to work on cardio while giving your legs a break. And the second purpose is to keep you mentally in the game. If you run on Thursday morning, and then take a break until Sunday evening, that’s almost four days. Plenty of time to get totally out of the zone.

So, take your cross training seriously! My favorite is biking; low impact, but still works your support muscles that may not get targeted during your runs. Comment below with your favs!

-R

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