Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cross-Training Crossroads

The FIRST program, which I'm following for all of my races at least through September's Top of Utah Marathon, calls for at least two days a week of strenuous cross-training. All winter, my cross-training of choice has been a spinning class twice weekly.

This is what our spin bikes look like.

These classes have been perfect. Unlike running, which is just viscerally interesting to me, cross-training is hard: hard in the sense that I hate activities that require more equipment than I can afford to buy or maintain on my own, and also hard in the sense that I have trouble pushing myself enough to get anything out of them.

Spin class takes care of both problems: it's at the rec center, which is free for me, so no equipment or cost issues, and the instructor, Tammy, is a bad-ass motivator with a great sense of humor and taste in music. Also, my good friend Christine usually comes, too, so for this portion of my training I have a workout buddy.

But at yesterday morning's class, Tammy announced that instead of going through May, as it has in the past, the class would be wrapping up at the end of this month, something the rec center bosses decided would work better. I knew I'd have to find another cross-training activity in June...but I didn't think I'd have to think about it so soon. And I'm frankly scared that I won't be able to keep my fitness at the same level trying to do something on my own.

The FIRST book details some cross-training workouts that in principle would work well. One involves the rowing machine, which appeals to me because it would work my arms and back as well as my legs and because I could listen to music while doing it. But that might get awfully boring done twice a week. Stationary biking without an instructor would be certain death-by-dullness for me. So that leaves....swimming.

Swimming. I loved it when I was small. My mom said I was a fish. And then I started having one ear infection after another, at a much older age than kids are supposed to have them (age nine). So I had to have tubes. Which meant wearing silly putty in my ears whenever I entered the water. If water did get in my ears, it was painful. I developed a phobia about water (and any object, really) getting into my ears that has never really dissipated. Unlike small children, who grow fast enough that their tubes often come out on their own, older kids like I was may have these things in the ears for a long time. Mine didn't come out until I was 14 years old.

Of course I know it was a good thing I had them. I was apparently suffering with a 40% hearing loss that they entirely corrected. But to this day, water sports are not my thing. I'll never do a triathlon, mostly because of the swimming portion. That static-y sloshy sensation of water in my ears still sets my teeth on edge. Yes, I've been told that there are very good ear plugs out there now that will keep all the water out. But putting ear plugs in my ears gives me the heebie jeebies too.

I'm not afraid of water per se. I'll put my head under water gently, and if I were lost at sea, I could keep myself afloat for a while. I do get into the lap pool with a kickboard when my kids have a swim lesson, just to burn some extra calories. But the splashing and head turning, not to mention the quick diving movements, that go along with truly exerting swimming....I just won't do it.

There is a kickboarding workout included in the suggested FIRST cross-training. It looks like that will be my next best option. I'm just afraid it won't be hard enough. If anyone has an opinion, please share it with me! Remember, this cross-training isn't just an extra. It's key to getting me to a faster marathon time.

1 comment:

  1. I think I told you this: I've used the FIRST method since 2007 and it led me to an early BQ.
    I'm not recommending you do this, but as I recall I think I only did one good XT day/week which was plyo intervals, ie: walking incline or running for 2 minutes then doing high knees, burpees, jumping jacks, lunges etc. for a minute for a total of about 45 mins. I also did a couple of days of yoga. I was less than diligent on the XT and it all worked out fine.
    Sorry the class is ending early!
    Just got the PB!!! Holy wow what a treat! Thank you! :)