When I first started running, the prevailing thought was that runners should stick to what they do best — run. However, when I first started running, it wasn’t because I just couldn’t wait to run, it was because I was getting/keeping in shape to play basketball. To me, it was so great to be able to run the court when everyone else was grabbing their shorts, trying to breathe. So, because running wasn’t my “passion” at the time, I worked out and blew off the idea of running as my only exercise. In other words, I was “cross training” before there were even talking about “cross training” (or had cross training shoes — yeah, that LONG ago)! : )
It’s funny, but if you watch the “running world,” you’ll see all kinds of fads come and go. Some fads work for some people — my understanding is that the Kenyans who dominated marathoning for a couple decades never lifted weights/crossed trained…and they sure didn’t look like they did. Then again, if you discovered a secret to running marathons in just over two hours and you made your living doing that, just how many people would you tell of your real “secret to success”? Probably not many, that is, if you wanted to keep winning races and making a living.
But I digress . . . a bit. : )
The reason I started talking about cross training is winter is going to be upon us all very quickly. Here in Southwest Missouri, we just got something like 12 inches of rain in a 48-hour time period. Flooding, side roads, and even major highways closed — but I was so thankful that it didn’t turn cold until AFTER the rain was over. And chances are pretty good, all of us will face some kind of weather-related challenges this winter. So, if you think you don’t need a cross training option to running, it’s time to rethink.
Now, cross training can take a lot of different forms, but I’m going to advise weight-bearing exercises. My advice would be to at least twice a week (if not three times), to spend at least 30 minutes focusing on strength training. If you can’t afford to purchase a few hand weights (dumb bells), focus on things like push-ups, planks, lunges with arm curls (create milk carton weights), even burpees. I know that one year when I was traveling, I used two one-gallon milk jugs filled with water to do some exercises. Nope, can’t drop them to the floor when you’re done (unless you want a mess), but they’ll do in a pinch. But you could always watch Craigslist for someone getting rid of their weights. Anyway, if you move quickly from one exercise to the next, it’ll keep your heart rate elevated as well.
Okay, I know I’m rambling a bit here, but some days you just won’t be able to run due to the weather conditions, so it would be nice to have a cross training option that you’re used to. Also, we’re all getting older. As you get older, unless you stress your bones with weight-bearing exercises, your bone density starts to reduce. IF there are any doctors out there, perhaps they can confirm this, but my understanding is that many older people don’t fall and break their hip, instead their hip snaps and then they fall. The bone density has been reduced to the point that the bone is brittle.
So, in summary (and I heard you say, “Thank goodness”!): 1) Start incorporating a weight routine into your training (add it to your routine, but not when you’re near to a big race…you may be sore for a week or so — ease into weights); 2) Give yourself an alternative to running when running and the weather aren’t agreeable; 3) Weight training helps maintain bone density and overall strength . . . the older you get the more the adage, “Use it or lose it” becomes a reality, especially when it comes to conditioning, muscle/strength, and as mentioned, bone density. So, run AND be strong. : )
Have an awesome run today! : )
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