TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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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.

Cross-train.

Me? 

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

8 comments:

  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.

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  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.

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

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  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.
    http://vimeo.com/7153748

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  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 : )

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

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

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  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.

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