Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cross Training

I used to be one of those runners who measures her training progress in terms of miles or time spent in running shoes. Okay, I'm still one of those runners...but in some remote part of my brain, I know better. I know that doing activities besides running can support and improve my training more than running alone could. 

I love hot yoga. Sometimes it's a borderline obsession. It's playful, it makes me sweat like a crazy person and it is as challenging as I want to make it. Moreover, every day is different. Sometimes I have good days. Other days are disastrous and even standing still makes me want to fall over.  But it's just yoga, not a race. The point is to enter the room with an open mind and willingness to explore what your body has in store. How it improves my running? Well, let me just say that when I am consistent with my practice, my breathing, pace and endurance benefit and I don't get random knee pains, shin splints or hip tightness. Pretty good deal. Plus, who doesn't like relaxing in downward dog?!

I've talked a bit about swimming before. Low/non-impact, great way to strengthen the whole body, much like yoga. Yes, having a strong upper body is actually beneficial for runners, but we tend to forget about that. Swimming can be great for endurance, too. Coming from a swimming background, my love affair for the 100m backstroke resurfaces each time I'm in the pool, but I've recently discovered the amazingness (yes, that's a word) of doing longer distance, continuous workouts, like a timed mile...or two...or more. It forces you to stick to an aerobic zone, much like during long runs and it's unquestionably therapeutic. Not to mention, I am rocking some impressive tan lines at the moment. So sexy.
Santa Monica Swim Center, my other happy place.
Random fact: swimming makes me ridiculously hungry, so I always pack a good snack for afterwards to avoid depleting the supply of vegan cookies at Whole Foods.

Boxing is not traditional runner cross training material, and frankly it's backfired on me a little in the past (strangely developed shin splints from all the footwork) BUT it's actually great upper body, core and lower leg training. It's good for developing coordination too so I should probably pick it back up...yah, I am the girl who trips over the one rock on a trail and manages to run into the bushes on the side for no apparent reason. 

Coordination may not be my forte but I am glad it provides entertainment for people I run with.

Spinning is obviously a popular choice for runners. I stick to stationary things, because I am still waiting on a road racing tricycle or training wheels for my road bike. Did I mention I was not coordinated? Anyhow, cycling/spinning works many of the supporting muscles that are secondary (but nonetheless super important) muscles for running and is low-impact, giving your joins something to smile about. 

And because Christmas apparently came early this year...this baby is currently on its way to me, so I can remedy my relationship with my road bike. Yes, it's a bike trainer and I am beyond excited. 

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