Even though I wish I could run every day, I know I can’t. Cross training is a simple solution for me as well as many other runners. My body simply can’t handle the high impact of running on a daily basis. Cross training helps prevent injury.
I have also learned that there are several advantages to cross training. In fact, the year and a half that I trained as a triathlete, I was a very strong runner even though it seemed like I didn’t run very much.
These days, I choose to cycle on my cross training days. I’m still surprised at how much I enjoy cycling! It wasn’t until four years ago that I learned to cycle. Sure, I knew how to ride a bike. But, there’s a big difference between riding my cruiser around the block to the park with the kids and riding 50 miles at 16mph. I started with very short rides, and I mean short. A few months later, I had built up the courage to ride a little farther. And, even though I had been a runner for years, I needed to build up some muscles for cycling that I didn’t have from running. I still remember the day that I decided I was going to cycle 2 times around the lake (~24 miles). I stopped half way and ate a snack to make sure I didn’t run out of energy. It was only a year later that I was riding 96 miles! Wow! Now if I didn’t enjoy this sport, there’s no way I would have made it to that point.
It’s all a balance. Each week I run 4 times, cycle 2 times and take a rest day. In addition, I fit in core exercises, yoga, and stretching. I still would like to add some strength training, but I’m struggling with this goal. My run workouts tend to have a definite purpose while my cycling workouts are more low key workouts. My friend and I belong to a great cycling club. We usually make our rides very social.
There are lots of benefits to cross training. Cycling 2 times a week allows me to maintain my cardio fitness while giving my joints a rest from the pounding of running. It also builds different leg muscles that should help with overall strength. In addition, I notice that I burn so many calories when I ride. I guess my body is accustomed to running and I don’t burn as much when I run anymore (remember, I have LOTS of years of running under my belt!). But, when I cycle, I need food!
Since it’s been pretty cold in the mornings, I have opted to hook my bike up to the trainer and watch a show or two while cycling.
However, I am looking forward to getting outside and riding in the sunshine. I’m also looking forward to increasing my ride time. As of now, my cycling workouts have been quick 45 minute spins. My favorite is getting out for 2 – 3 hour rides. Last year, my husband and I got to ride together a few times. This was a definite highlight for me!
Do you want to read more about the benefits of cross training for runners?
Do you cross train? Which sport do you choose for your cross training sport?