Tale of the Tape Through Week Five
Weight: January 1 = 189, February 5 = 183. 5 weeks, loss of 6 lbs. Ahead of 1 lb per week pace.
Mileage: Week 5 run/walk miles: 42.4. Average weekly mileage: 38.7. Above target min of 35 mi/wk.
Confessions of a reluctant cross-trainer
OK, I admit it – for exercise I mostly just run and walk. I don’t like cross-training very much, in the traditional sense of the word. Biking and swimming are two of the most common cross-training activities enjoyed by runners. The three combine quite nicely – just look at all the triathlons and triathletes around us.
Yes, cross-training is a great idea and the benefits are undeniable. And I have had success with it in the past, but…
My lone try at cross-training with swimming
In 1992 I was living in Texas with Helen and our first 2 kids. I had (once again) fallen into bad habits as the winter approached with a brutal work schedule and too much food and drink. I did the New Year’s resolution thing, and supplemented my running with swimming 3 times a week, and pledged January to be vegetarian, and no alcohol. I swear – I could look in a mirror and see the pounds actually fall off me! I lost something like 15 pounds that month. But that was the last time I swam for exercise. It made me feel bad for the rest of the day – kind of green around the gills. Some people told me to check my form, but I think I have a ‘torqued’ inner ear that makes me feel seasick when I do too much circular motion with my head – like the chin-tucking motion of breathing while swimming. It is too similar to this one round-and-round carnival ride of my youth that made me swear off all spinning rides for a lifetime. But a little research showed I am not the only one with this swimming – seasick problem. I was also not crazy about the goggle/chlorine/waterlogged ear/dampness aspects. Interestingly enough, I kept up the vegetarian diet for the rest of the year. Maybe that is a sort of sustainable cross-training?
Tuning up the running machine through bike and weight-lifting cross-training
About 10 years ago, I was in good running shape, and I was trying to improve my times. I got a good road bike (always use your local specialty bike shop, like The Bike Lane) and also joined the local YMCA. So for most of one summer in addition to my 3 quality run days, I dedicated 2 days for a combo bike/strength workout. I mapped out a 20 mile rolling hills road route with the YMCA ¾ of the way through. I would bike pretty hard for 15, stop at the YMCA and do a circuit on the weight machines, then bike the remaining 5 home. That really did the trick! I was in terrific shape and felt great. Then the fall arrived and biking got much less inviting in the cold and dark. The next spring I was plagued with flat tires the first couple times out. I’ve had it out a few times since, but there it sits on the rack in my garage. I had a disc in my neck fixed a few years back, and now I cannot tolerate the head/neck position while riding a road bike at speed. Maybe I would do better with a hybrid off-road bike, so I could sit more upright, enjoy more trail variety, and have less tire problems (and have a softer seat!!).
Finding cross-training activities that are enjoyable and still help running/walking
Great physical successes both times: cross-training works to burn calories, promote better overall muscular and cardiovascular fitness, and reduce the chance of injuries due to repetitive motion and impact. But, I can’t tolerate the swimming. And while I have had some great bike rides, the collective issues of weather, equipment/gear problems, routes crowded with cars or bikes, and my balky neck make it not right for me. Most of the senior staff at Metro Run & Walk and most of my neighborhood running posse are passionate about biking and triathlons, so I don’t lack for opportunities and encouragement.
So, what I have done is create a mental priority list of ‘cross-training’ non-running/walking activities that do work for me. Then, I just work them in as I feel like it. Right now my list is two deep:
2) Floor exercises for strength
Others further down the list include yoga, aerobics, and yes, biking. But my top 2 can be done any time, any place, and for any duration.
Next week I will get into the specifics of what stretching and floor exercises work especially well with my distance running and how/when I fit them in.