Weekly Recap & Enjoying Cross Training

This has been a pretty good cross training week.

Monday – 15 minutes lateral machine, 10 minutes bike
Wednesday – 30 minutes bike, 30 minutes lifting
Friday – 15 minutes arc trainer, 30 minutes bike
Saturday – Yoga for Runner’s Recovery workshop
Sunday – 60 minutes bike

Apparently, cross training is much more fun when you choose to do it rather than being forced to do it by injury.  Cross training can also be an important part of training that many of us runners (myself included) often neglect. In taking this time to cross train instead of run, I am hoping to get into a better habit of including cross training in my routine and find what I enjoy doing as cross training. The benefits of cross training I think are obvious, but if you’re new to running then maybe they are not. It is a great way to get your heart rate up while giving your joints a break and activate other muscles needed for running, but maybe not directly activated during running.

A bit embarrassing, but ellipticals give me motion sickness so they have never been a cross training option for me. My gym also does not have a pool so swimming is unfortunately not an option for me either. I love to swim, but I cannot afford the added cost of joining some where that I can swim on top of my gym membership. I am also looking to incorporate weekly yoga into my training in 2015 and that will be costly. I love my gym too much to leave it for one that has a pool, so I started to look for alternatives to cycling. I train in the morning so there isn’t often any cardio classes I can participate in so I began exploring some of the other cardio machines my gym has and I have been pleasantly surprised!

The first I have been working on is the lateral machine. I can only do it for 15 minutes at a time because it is kind of brutal, especially if I take on the squat position. It really gets my heart rate up as well so it’s a fun way to break up my workout. Basically, your legs work in a lateral motion on this machine. Here is a fancy video from the makers of the machine.

The next machine I’ve been using is the Arc Trainer. This is similar to an elliptical, but the movement is an arc position. The lesser up-and-down motion works well from keeping me from feeling nauseous. The only issue I have is getting used to using my entire foot rather than pushing off on my forefoot like I’m running. The motion is extremely similar to running and my mind automatically goes to that place.

These two machines mixed with the bike have kept me from getting bored. On Saturday, I headed to one of the local yoga studio’s for a workshop for runners. The workshop focused on recovery. For the first 30 minutes, a doctor gave a lecture about the importance of warm up and recovery. Then for the final 80-90 minutes, we had a yoga class specifically focused on recovering the body from the stress activities like running puts on it. It was really enjoyable and I will definitely be heading back there to start doing weekly yoga. A member of my training group is also arranging a one time class just for our group through that studio.

The past two weeks have been surprisingly enjoyable and I have learned a lot about cross training. Here are my tips on making cross training a positive experience:

1. Try different things: Don’t just stick to the bike or the elliptical. If you’re paying for a gym membership, get the most out of it! Try the different machines the gym has to offer for at least 15 minutes to figure out how they work, if it gets your heart rate up, and if you enjoy it.
2. Break up your workout: If 30+ minutes on the bike seems too boring, break up your workout to different types of machines. Try 15 minutes on the elliptical, 15 minutes on the bike, 15 minutes on the stair machine, and 15 minutes on the rower. That’s an hour of exercise, but you won’t have time to get bored.
3. Use machines that will raise your heart rate, but work different parts of your body: These muscles are all important to running and building strength into them can only help.
4. Stretch and/or roll: Yeah, don’t forget to stretch and/or roll after your workout to keep your muscles loose!

Do you cross train? What do you like to do as your cross training and how do you keep from getting bored when all you want to do is run?

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