Cross-training; runners’ friend or foe?
I know a lot of runners who swear by cross training to increase overall performance while decreasing injury risk. Swimming, cycling and yoga are often amongst these alternative sports. I also know a lot of runners who don’t believe in cross training as something that can improve your running and the only form of training they do is running.
I am somewhere in the middle. Before I started running I used to love going to the gym and various exercise classes. Now when my favourite thing is running, I really dislike the gym. I don’t know what it is but I can’t enjoy it anymore, or rarely do anyway.
I have become a very injury-prone ever since I broke my ankle and I have a new injury pretty much every month. I always tell myself that to prevent these injuries I’ll run less and cross train instead, such as go to the gym, circuits class, pilates etc. Yet I always fail to keep this promise until it’s too late and I am already injured. When I get injured I get extremely frustrated and end up in this frame of thinking: “If I can’t run I can’t do anything and I may as well just lie on the couch and eat chocolate and feel sorry for myself.” Luckily that doesn’t always happen, and when it does I’ve learnt to get over it quite soon (emphasis on the word quite). After this stage I usually start going to the gym again because I can’t run. I’ll use the cross trainer or the bike and spend an hour or two there feeling annoyed and bored and jealous of everyone who is on the treadmill. So it might be my attitude that makes me dislike the gym; I usually go there when I’m injured so I’m already in a bad mood. But it really is boring just exercising on the spot like you do at the gyms. I can’t seem to get myself motivated enough to work hard there either. If I know I have a speed session I can make myself run quick and suffer but on the cross trainer it just isn’t the same. If it gets tough I lower the level and just slow down. I can’t make it uncomfortable in the same way like I can when running, yet I still find the whole machine uncomfortable 😀
I used to like to do weights and stuff at the gyms I had back home but for some reason I am intimidated by all the big bulky guys and muscly girls at the gym I go to now and don’t want to go anywhere near them to lift the 4kg weights with my puny arms. I always tell myself that I’ll just do the cardio at the gym as I can’t do it home but I’ll do weights when I get home. As if. That’s always the biggest lie. Not once have I actually come back from the gym and continued to do weights at home. Just doesn’t happen.
Another cross training I do actually enjoy very much is pilates. I love going to the classes but again if I have to miss a class because of work or other plans I can’t make myself go on any other day of the week either. I must not like it as much because I would always make time if it was running.
I got a pilates book so I can actually do the exercises at home too but that seems like too much effort most of the time. I love running in the mornings and getting exercising out of the way before any other commitments. Yet, if I’m injured and can’t run I can’t get myself up in the morning just to do pilates or any other form of exercise at home. That just doesn’t motivate me enough to get up that little bit earlier like running would. I lie myself I can always do the pilates/weights/circuits later on in the day because it’s easy and I can do it at home. But it just doesn’t happen. Just for the same reasons; it’s easy, it’s at home but there’s so much more to distract you at home. I sound like such a lazy bugger writing this now but my problem is I keep making excuses when it comes to every other form of exercise except running, even if it’s meant to help my running.
I don’t know what it is. Or I do, it’s my attitude towards cross training I guess. I think I just have to tell myself that I believe in it and I believe it will make me a better runner and it will prevent injuries etc. And maybe, just maybe I’ll actually go to the gym once feeling happy to work out and push myself, and maybe I will wake up that little bit earlier one morning to do pilates first thing. But we’ll see. I’ll be waiting for those days.. meanwhile I’ll most likely be running through my injury pain and then succumbing to the couch with the chocolates when it doesn’t work out.
It’s running or nothing.
(Tips on how to motivate yourself to cross-train are warmly welcomed.) 🙂