cross training your way to finding joy

Cross Training Your Way to Finding Joy

Cross Training.  Athletic training in sports other than the athlete’s usual sport.

Burn out is real.  Boredom is real. Injuries can happen fast for people who spend a majority of their day sitting.  I snuck into the run coach scene in 2015 when I broke through with a run less, run faster strength training approach to distance training.  As a D1 collegiate pole vaulter, in one week you would find me in a pool, gymnastics room, weight room and on the track.  Variety kept me strong.  It increased my performance, decreased the likelihood of burnout and ultimately allowed me to be successful while staying injury free.

After the birth of my second daughter, I jumped into the obstacle racing scene.  A sport that requires you to be able to run over long distances while also having the physical strength to hang, pick up heavy objects and swim in some cases.  You want to be fast, but you also need to carry enough muscle to be successful in obstacles.  Enter cross training.  Run three times a week.  That’s it.   Spend the other days cross training:  pool, bike, weights, or resting.

As I started to pick up more strictly road race clients, I continued to apply the same methodology (both on myself and them).  

  • Three mandatory runs a week: Intervals (track and speed work or hills), tempo/recovery runs, and long steady state runs.
  • One ride a week at Flywheel Sports – the metrics Flywheel offers are similar to a Garmin watch.  See power output, either work less or work harder.  This is low impact interval or recovery training that is strength training at the same time.
  • Strength train two times per week – PICK. UP. WEIGHTS.  Yes, you marathon runners.  Heavy weights.  Weights that make you feel like you might not be able to finish a set.  I make my marathon runners hang, do pull ups, kettlebell swing, curtsy lunge, single arm carry, lie on the ground and do isometric holds.  
  • REST.  

Here’s the biggest catch.  I train everyday people.  The people who have kids.  A 9-5 job.  They will likely never win a road race.  They are chasing personal bests, but also the good feels exercise gives them.  They are having babies.  They are postpartum. They don’t overthink their week (because our weeks never go as planned).  They value community.  They need variety.  It’s so easy for people living the lifestyle of those mentioned above to get in a routine of doing the same thing or absolutely nothing when life gets in the way.  Sometimes doing the same thing can be just as bad as doing nothing. 

On November 16th, I toed the line of the Charlotte Marathon with over 15 women who had taken part in this form of training in one way or another.  They would go on to cross the finish line of the 5k, relay, half marathon, and marathon with personal bests in almost every event.  Even better, they were full of JOY.  I have watched people show up to track workouts and be discouraged (because they are not as fast), only to show up to a subsequent strength workout and realize that is what they excel at.  Spending time in various workout environments allows one to really see where they need to challenge themselves more while also giving themselves the grace to see where they excel.  Seeing it all come together not only makes them live life better, but allows them to see JOY in doing things they never imagined with people they have grown to love.

So how do you even start?  I can help! But, the easiest thing to do is start trying new things.  Whenever I start the process of putting together a plan for someone, I ask the following questions:

  • What are your goals?  Someone who wants a healthy pregnancy is different that someone who wants to run a marathon.
  • What do you currently do? And do you like it?  I never want to take away something from someone that they like to do.  When you like to do something you are more likely to go.
  • What do you not like to do?  Hate running? Okay, we won’t run.  Can we get you to Flywheel?  Can we get you in a pool?  Can we get you doing some anaerobic weights somewhere?
  • What day do you like to take off?  Yes.  Recovery is necessary.  Pick a day or two to take off depending on your goals.
  • Do you rely on a community or are you self motivated?  Some people can do workouts on their own.  Most can’t.  If you need accountability, find a way to get it.  Sign up for stuff where you will get charged for no showing.  Tell me you are coming to see me.  I’ll text you at 4:30A for a 5A workout to make sure you show up.
  • Do you have any injuries?  Some places just don’t do a good job giving modifications.  They probably own that.  If you need more, be willing to ask for more.
  • What is your budget?  Sweatnet is an amazing tool to find free workouts weekly and drops in to make a variety of boutique workouts affordable while also seeing a similar community. 

The New Year is a perfect time to start thinking about ways to switch things up.  Surround yourself with new people, while also not forgetting about the old people.  Beginning December 17th, every Tuesday 5:30P at Flywheel, I will be leading a community class for Sweatnet members.   Drop in rate is $18.  Be prepared to have fun, learn something about yourself, meet new people, and “never coast”.