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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why I Cross-Train

Okay, I know that I’ve mentioned this probably a dozen times before, but I’ve never considered myself an athlete.  I feel this way even though I’m a trail runner and have played various sports.  I think I’ve never considered myself an athlete partly due to the fact that I come a family of superb athletes – I mean superstars in their sports (not professional sports, but sports they’ve chosen in their lives: baseball, softball, hockey, figure skating, wrestling, football, to name a few). Though I experienced some triumphs, I pale in comparison ability-wise to siblings, cousins, uncles, my father.  I also don’t think that I “look” like an athlete – however, I now know that athletes come in all “looks” and that is WONDERFUL.

Slowly (very slowly – pun intended – those who’ve run with me get the pun :), I’ve been coming around to admit that I’m an athlete.  I just can no longer deny it.  I mean, I keep showing up at these races, and people are starting to recognize me!  Not only that, I cross-train for goodness sake.



I didn’t begin cross-training on purpose.  I cross-train because I have to.  I mean REALLY HAVE TO.  I run 3 to 4 times a week, and I’m at the gym the remaining days (with one rest day).  I swim.  I weight train.  I spend hours on the elliptical crossramp.  I even ride the life cycle (what we used to call the stationary bike – they don’t even call it a “life cycle” anymore, that’s the 80’s brand.) Smile

When I began running, I thought that running would make me strong enough to run.  Even before I hit the trails I learned that running didn’t make me strong enough to run.  Right about the time I could run ten miles, my body started saying “NO WAY, you are not STRONG ENOUGH!”  And it started tweaking in different places.  I remember the first time.  I don’t recall the exact injury.  But I remember sobbing as I called my husband to pick me up at the marina, because the pain was too great to run. 

Still, I endured the injuries, took time off, then moped around the house because I couldn’t run.  And then the big awakening happened in my life.  I began my passion at the ripe age of 43.  Trail Running.  And injuries abounded. 

With each injury I learned a new body part that needed strengthening, strengthening that could not be done by running.  But I could strengthen different body parts in the pool, or on the elliptical or with weights.  And that is why I cross-train – so I can be strong enough to run the trails.  And now, I love it, cross-training that is.  And as an added bonus, I fall less on the trail because I am strong enough to pull my self up as I’m going down.  I don’t fly off the cliff when I run off the trail, because I am strong enough to turn my body around mid-air, and crash into the hillside instead (see San Juan 50k).  I can jump from boulder to boulder.  And more importantly, I know when I should jump, because I now know my body better – I have been there, I have seen the light, I can feel every muscle and can judge whether or not I should make that jump.

Cross-training is a big plus in my life.

Therefore, I suppose I am an athlete. Winking smile


  1. I enjoyed reading this. In many ways, I think I love kickboxing more than running because I could adapt my workouts around injuries whereas with running - well, it's hard to run when you're injured.

  2. Agreed you are an athlete. The fact that you intellectually understand the benefits of cross training and then apply it to your focus sport says a lot.

  3. I love this post! People often underestimate the importance of cross training.

  4. Cross training? Don't believe in it :P
    I have been challenging the concept of "athlete" for some time now. The prevalent attitude is that whatever isn't covered during the evening news/sports doesn't qualify as athletics. Hmmm, NASCAR and golf eh? Yeah....
    You do know, that your falling and not falling makes you sound like a cat.
    And it reminds me of a Laurie Anderson piece.

  5. Kickboxing sounds so fun Green Girl. Thanks for reading! Yup, it is very hard to run injured. My physical therapist in fact said to never run injured -- that's why I'm aiming for injury free : )

  6. Windnsnow -- LOL. I am very uncat-like. Cats are sleek and graceful. But that Laurie Anderson piece, well, that is very much me. : )

  7. Thanks Jessie! I contribute crosstraining to making it half way through the year with virtually no time off from running.

  8. Thanks Patrick! I almost cringe reading "agreed you are an athlete." I've always considered being called an athlete a huge compliment. I'm just gonna go with it and "take a compliment" and not argue. So, thanks again.