Adventures in Cross-Training

In an effort to enjoy my joints for many years to come, I’m trying to incorporate more cross-training into my routine.

Seems like a great idea. Less injuries. Avoid the rut of muscle memory. More potential to increase my metabolism and core strength. Less boredom and more variety.

For the past couple weeks I’ve made a concerted effort to bike, swim, row on the indoor rower (or ergometer/”erg” in rowing speak), and incorporate some resistance training a couple times a week in addition to running. But believe it or not, it’s been more challenging than I imagined to get out of my comfort zone and not run.

Running is easy – you put on your running shoes and open your front door whenever you feel like it. There are no chains to clean and lubricate and no gym crowds to fend off. As much I believe in and preach the idea of cross-training, I have to admit – I’ve experienced some challenges with my new cross-training goals. At the risk of embarrassing myself, I share with you:


Reasons I Think Running is Easier Than Cross-Training

*If you accidentally back over your equipment with your car, running shoes bounce right back. Bike wheels… not quite as resilient. (Don’t judge, I was in a hurry.)

*You might live in constant fear of clueless drivers while cycling. (Pleaseseeme – pleasedon’tbecheckingfacebookonyourphone – pleasepayattention. And to the lady in the white SUV roaming Dunwoody – you scaring the crap out of me by honking and flicking me off as I innocently ride where I am supposed to does nothing but make you look like a jerk in front of your 5 year old.)

*While running you would never get awkwardly kicked out of a pool, head held in shame, by 35 little old ladies beginning water aerobics.

*You don’t spend the rest of your day smelling like a bucket of chlorine, despite showering.

*Two words – Gyms stink. In every facet of the word. With no fresh air, I always end up next to some poor soul with what Seinfeld would call beyond BO… BBO.

*You don’t have to fight over the last properly working bike in spin class, after waiting in line for 20 minutes. Not that I don’t enjoy cycling with my knees in my face, but the ability to make proper adjustments would help since I’m already putting up with a remedial instructor (Note to instructor: Your mostly female class probably does not appreciate it when you tell the guys they need to pedal faster, because it is “completely horrible to have girls doing better than you.” )

*You don’t have to share close locker room quarters with a multitude of naked people running around leaving you no personal space. (While I respect your confidence ladies, I don’t want to come in contact with your sweaty left thigh or rear as I lock up my things).


Ok, ok…  I’ve had some tiny roadblocks to overcome, but nothing too major. Although I’ve done plenty of cross-training in my day, I haven’t really compared the effects closely to my standard training. I’m going to pay close attention and see how this cross-training impacts my outcome on July 4th. Will I run just as fast with less training miles? Will my body hurt less? Recover faster? 

What do you think about cross-training? And seriously… after swimming, how do you avoid smelling like a bucket of chlorine?

2 comments Add your comment


April 28th, 2010
4:11 pm

I stronlgy believe in cross training. I am a long distance half marathoner and started cycling, swimming and strength training several years ago and am now a much better athelete in all these areas.

Daniel Norton

April 29th, 2010
1:42 pm

I agree with Kath. Cross training has made a tremendous difference in my running performance and overcoming injuries. If nothing else, I think that all runners should include some core strengthening exercises in their weekly schedule – lunges, side leg lifts, squats, planks. Strengthening your core will stabilize your hips and legs and reduces the likehood of over-use injuries like ITBS as well as improving running form. Plus, for people like us who don’t like the gym, you can do most core exercises at home with no more equipment than a yoga mat.