Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cross Training

How frequently do I run? Three times a week.

Yep, that's all. On Tuesdays I do a speed workout (for an example, see my last post about interval training; the total workout including cool-down periods was 6 miles). On Thursdays I do a tempo run (this week's will be five miles at 8:24/mile). And on Saturdays I do a long run (this weekend's will be 13 miles, the longest yet in the program). The grand total: 24 miles.

That's about half what a lot of runners consider adequate weekly mileage to prepare for a long race, and two or three days fewer of running than most do. The rest of the days and miles are supposed to be at a fairly easy pace.

But since I'm following the FIRST program, I cross train on two days--which means doing something that makes you breathe hard and work muscles for an extended period of time but isn't running (that's the "Run Less" part of "Run Less, Run Faster," the book that details the FIRST program). The theory is that cross-training boosts your endurance without over-taxing the running muscles, allowing these muscles to work harder when called upon. It seems to be working for me so far.

My cross-training workout of choice, done on Mondays and Wednesdays, is spinning. Spinning is an hour or so on a stationary bike indoors, varying pedal speed and resistance (which is changed with a small lever on the bike) based on music selected by the instructor. The instructor for my class, taught at the rec center, is named Tammy. She's got a great sense of humor, awesomely muscled arms and an arsenal of CDs with themes ("You guys want to do the Van Halen CD?" she'll ask; the Van Halen CD is hard).

I've gotten to the point where I really look forward to these classes. This is partly because despite the sweat they feel like a break from running (no pounding my sore foot), partly because it's fun to listen to new music (Tammy actually gave me one of the CDs after I told her I liked a song on it!) and partly because my friend Christine also goes. After today's class (the music was contemporary pop), we chewed the fat about how to get the stink out of super-sweaty synthetic-material clothes (my tip was to line dry, not dryer dry them, but I also know there are special detergents for this if you're willing to spend extra money and do separate loads, which I am not; we do enough laundry in my house these days).

Unfortunately spinning is seasonal. The rec center figures the cyclists want to be outside when the weather gets warm and the sun comes up early. I like riding my bike, but I don't do it for exercise. It's too equipment-intense. So come late spring, I'll have to find another cross-training workout--until Tammy and her CDs come back in the fall.


  1. Whatcha gonna do?

    I do 1 day/week of cross training, and I sort of love/hate the break, but come summer when the weather is nice it will be hard to want to do anything other than run. So easy! So convenient! I suppose I should look for something else as well.

  2. Hi Penny! For the x-training in the summer, I will probably swim/kickboard one day a week and hike another. My fear is that these aren't as hard as spinning--I'm just not good at self-motivating w/ x-training. I like having the instructor telling me to make it more intense.

  3. Yes, I never seem to get in a good workout by swimming. Perhaps I will try crossfit, or similar class. Sometimes they are held outside. I really like the appeal of muscle strengthening without weights.