Wednesday, January 23, 2013

T-minus 19 days, and counting: cross-training on a wintry day

It snowed again today...A common theme around these parts lately (it's snowed four times in eight days, nevermind rain and snowmelt and everything in between). Given my fall from this Sunday, I thought I'd avoid the risk and stay inside tonight.

That's the thing about winter running - the weather can be so unpredictable that it can scuttle your plans. Which means that a mid-winter half marathon will probably not see you posting a PB on race day.

So tonight, I headed to the gym for a Body Pump class, for some good ol' cross-training. It's been a few weeks since my last BP class, so I didn't quite know what weights to put on the bar, but for the most part my leg core, arm core and back core felt strong.

My core, however, felt a little weak. I could especially tell when I was doing squats - my back started to hurt, which was a good reminder to suck in my abs as we worked.

I find it really takes effort and planning to find a good balance between running and cross-training, but it's that cross-training that's so important to building and maintaining strength.

We once had a speaker come in to one of the clinics I attended, who used to be the trainer for the national triathlete team. He said that they immediately saw an improvement in their athletes' performance as soon as they started building strength training into their regular training. So, for example, he suggested running to the park as part of your regular training run, then using the bars and a strength band there to do some core strength exercises, and running back.

I can tell you that the year that I got married, I tried something similar, and I was the fastest, strongest and fittest that I have ever been in my running career (if you can call it that). I would run 1.5kms to the gym, do 30 minutes of strength training, and then run 7.5 kms home. But the problem was that I'd arrive home at around 8:30 or 9 and have missed dinner (not to mention spending time with my fiance).

These days, my priorities are different. I would rather spend an hour at the gym or running, then the rest of the evening at home. Which means that most days I'm doing one run or cross-training class (whether yoga, Body Pump or Zumba), instead of both.

The trick, again, is to find that balance and to realize that I'm not a professional athlete, but I can still live a healthy and active life without expecting myself to hit PBs on every race.

Thus endeth my blog post for day T-minus 19 until race day!


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