Cross training? Whatever do you mean?

IMG 1507 300x224 Cross training? Whatever do you mean?

Where, oh where, is my love for this bike?

I really had the best of intentions. This marathon training cycle would be different. I’d keep up with the swimming and cycling fitness I acquired last summer training for two triathlons. What better way to start next summer’s triathlon training than to maintain a base in my other sports, after all?

But good intentions are never enough. Like always when I get immersed in marathon training, I’m pretty quick to cut back on the cross training. This time I’ve pretty much eliminated it, in fact (strength training the exception). I get in the pool once or twice  a week, sure. But the bike? Can’t tell you the last time I even looked at the trainer. I just have no desire, and frankly, I’m at an age where I’m just not going to spend my free time doing something I don’t enjoy, even if skipping it does leave me feeling guilty. Right now I’m loving my runs, so that’s where I’m putting my focus.

Here’s the good news, though. As much as we like to think that cross training has an infinite amount of benefits, the best thing for increasing your speed in any given sport is more time doing that sport–not others. It’s the law of specificity. Want to be a better runner? Run more. A better cyclist? Same thing. So if you are focused on one sport, don’t exchange a sport-specific workout in favor of another thinking it will help your primary sport.

I’m not too concerned about my lack of swimming or cycling. Right now I’m all about running. After mid-March, mood provided, of course, I’ll start getting back to some cross training. If my heart leads me to running, though, I’m going to follow it. Life is too short to do otherwise.

What about you–are you a dedicated one-sport junky or do you like mixing things up? 

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  1. It takes a lot (usually a friend dragging me) to do anything other than running. On my own and given the choice, I run. No doubt about it. I do envy those that can do several things per day, though.
    Amy @ Writing While Running recently posted..Austin Marathon: Done and PR’edMy Profile

  2. My athletes often ask me about cros-training, and I normally give them the same sort of answer:

    Ran, and when you are running enough the you cross-train. So for my wife, who is only alond to run 3 times a week, bikes swims and gyms all the rest of the time, while I run 7 times a week and don’t have much other time, so it’s a short swim at home or a weekend ride with my wife.
    Coach Dion recently posted..JUST HOW LONG IS A MARATHON?My Profile

  3. I pretty much agrree with the specificity rule. Sometimes doing other activities gives me a break but if training then thats what I shall do.
    kenley jones recently posted..Training Going Well…….My Profile

  4. When I heard you had to do cross training besides running I was really bummed out. Here I was, feeling all smug about being such a sporty person, and then they tell me that’s not enough.

    So I run five times a week, and ride my bike once. That should do it!
    Mom’ s Home Run recently posted..Tunebelt Sport Armband: during a runMy Profile

  5. I’m primarily a runner but I do 2 strength workouts a week and I’ve also added two yoga a week and it seems to help me feel better. I hate being indoors so it limits me in the winter for biking.
    Jeff recently posted..#plankaday updateMy Profile

  6. I’m a runner all the way but I’m mixing it up so I don’t feel the burn out. Yoga, strength, cycling and Barre are all more ways to have fun and keep it fresh for me.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Baked Broccoli Slaw Egg RollsMy Profile

  7. I’m a reformed one-sport-junkie. :)
    Holly KN recently posted..Bug Collecting, Spinning ‘Til You (Almost) Cry, and Lazy Breakfast DinnerMy Profile

  8. I’m bit much of a cross trainer. I’m spending plenty of time on the bike as well as running, but that’s bc I have a goal bike race AND a goal running race. Forced cross training, I guess. :)
    Kate recently posted..Best. week. ever.My Profile

  9. I would always rather run, I also had intentions of continuing to use my bicycle but…running is so much funner!

  10. I mostly just run, even tho I know I should cross train. I made a goal for myself to take 10 classes at a local gym (that only does classes, no treads or equipment, other than weights, etc for the classes). I took my first one on Monday, a Boot Camp, and every muscle in my body aches lol
    kim prytherch recently posted..(Half) Marathon MondayMy Profile

  11. My bike is neglected too, but I do miss it. I’m more picky about cycling weather — it can’t be rainy, icy or too windy — and nice Sunday afternoons (my usual cyclicng slot) have been hard to come by.
    Coco recently posted..Wordless Wednesday (The Worst Hotel Views Edition)My Profile

  12. Poor, pooooor, pooooooooooor bike!!!!! Look how LONELY she is!!! She wants to be ridden!!!

    I am a triathlete, as the old saying goes, “jack of all trades, master in none of them”
    Scott recently posted..Weekly RamblingsMy Profile

  13. We talked a lot about the law of specificity at the RRCA training. It makes a lot of sense. My body has always responded better to more cross training to stay uninjured, but i did hit my highest mileage this past cycle and of course and now wondering if I can go even higher next time. But I also love spinning, so it’s not a chore for me to do it. :)
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Apple Raisin Oat MuffinsMy Profile

  14. Right now I am mixing things up just due to aches, pains and injury. And by mixing things up, I mean the elliptical. But I am keeping up with my weights and that is good news.

    The Kidless Kronicles
    Nicole@TheKidlessKronicles recently posted..Back on the straight and narrowMy Profile

  15. I do keep up with my cross training pretty well. I have found it really does help me. Spinning once a week, total body class, pilates, yoga. But I don’t have any kids yet. So its easy to fit these things in now. I often wonder what I will do when I have kids. I feel like I will do a lot more at home stuff instead of going to the gym.
    J recently posted..Catching a SunriseMy Profile

  16. I enjoyed the big focus on running during my Disney training and avoiding the trainer. I was obviously frustrated with my loss of fitness but it was a nice, needed break. And I feel like the SMALL amount of cross training I did complemented my marathon training and helped me to be stronger. I am so excited to hear how your marathon goes.
    Robin recently posted..Pushing Yourself in Training and a SparklySoul WinnerMy Profile

  17. I like to change things up! A.D.D.?? ;)
    Kat recently posted..Sugar Rehab: 40 days & 40 nightsMy Profile

  18. I am with you – I pick a run every time! This round of marathon training though, I am gonna try to do more cycling and swimming b/c I will also be prepping for my first sprint tri. I think it will have keep my training more balanced this time around…hopefully ha
    Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail) recently posted..#WIAW – A Long Weekend and a ValentineMy Profile

  19. you need to come crossfit with me!

  20. This is the first marathon that I have actively used cross training. Not sure if it will help me or hurt me in the end. When I trained for CIM I had cross training too, but it wasn’t as intense as crossfit. When I trained for Eugene I lifted at home, but that really wasn’t intense and I never felt guilty for skipping a session. I think that it is great that you are getting in the pool 1-2 times a week. If you don’t enjoy the trainer then you are making a good decision to not use it.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Brooks Gear: Review #1My Profile

  21. I’ve tried dating around, but it turns out I am happiest when running and I are in an exclusive relationship.
    Mara @Big Happy Family recently posted..Wonderful worldMy Profile

  22. I definitely like mixing it up! :)
    Kovas – Midwest Multisport Life recently posted..Love Music Project (and a Giveaway!)My Profile

  23. I don’t really mix things up too much. I will ride the spin bike every once in a while, but running is my ultimate choice:)
    rachelle q (hikermom) recently posted..Not My Day!My Profile

  24. Wellllll, if that beautiful Trek needs a good home? :) Just kidding. I love my Cannondale. I have good mojo with it and with my Mazda.

    I’m the same way tho…if I don’t feel like doing something, I just don’t. After my 70.3 last year, I didn’t ride for 2-3 months. The break actually did me good because I felt as if I were living on it for awhile. For me, the swim is where it’s at. Actually, I just love it for therapeutic reasons.
    Coy recently posted..Leaving the blog behind…My Profile

  25. I WISH I could cross train. My bike is set up on the trainer and last year, because we did the NYC ride in May, I was cross training with cycling. But this year, there is only running on my list so I have no desire, like you, to get on the bike. I also wish I could get myself into the pool because I like swimming but I am so cold sensitive (and getting worse) I can’t stand it. Wet suit in the college pool? Ummm… the way I swim is already providing amusement.
    Joanne recently posted..Hills are the Best and Lemon Blueberry Protein PancakesMy Profile

  26. I do much better with a balance of running and cross training. I cannot put in very high mileage weeks at this point, so the cross training is a way to keep my endurance and cardio up. But when I do run (3x/week) it is purposeful and quality. Yes, to be a better runner you have to run more, but for some of us running more means maybe eventually not being able to run at all (injury) :(
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..10 Things I Learned The Hard Way As A RunnerMy Profile

  27. If I had to ride my bike on a trainer for the majority of the winter I would hardly touch the thing. I love cycling but only outside.
    And I’m with you on cross training and training for a marathon I always have the best intentions but it just never happens. I get to focused on the run.
    And that is ok!
    Missy recently posted..I dress the rainbowMy Profile

  28. I definitely love mixing things up! I like to try everything. That being said, I’ll never stop weight training. That is my numero uno love :)
    Kierston recently posted..{WIAW} Competition Food: No Carb Protein Muffin Tops!My Profile

  29. I think that I’m more of a cross-trainer by nature because there are so many different sports and activities that I like to do. But I will admit, it’s usually laziness or convenience that gets me stuck in a rut more than anything like I’d love to swim more but then it’s the hassle of getting to the pool and coordinating my schedule with lap swim hours that’s a hassle sometimes and I end up at the gym.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Staying active while travelingMy Profile

  30. It’s hard to fit in cross training when your doing marathon training because it just takes so much time anyway and once you’re done you just want to rest. I think cross training is good until it starts to cut into recovery time. recovery time>crosstraining
    Amanda recently posted..Free Thought FridayMy Profile

  31. I could totally be a 1 sport junkie. BUT I found that I have to crosstrain (strength/stretching) to not injure myself. Maybe someday I’ll get to the point where my body is strong enough to sustain itself on running alone, but I’ve proven to myself that it isn’t the case right now.
    beka @ rebecca roams recently posted..Weekly Workouts Roundup + Long Run ManiacMy Profile

  32. I don’t cross train and don’t really ever plan on it. I know the pros say its good for you, but I’m no pro. I only have so much time in life to do the things I want. Fitness is extremely important to me, but it isn’t all there is. In short, don’t sweat not cross training. Cheers!
    Viper recently posted..Too Much, Too LongMy Profile

  33. I’m not sure how much cross training helped me fitness-wise during my marathon training, but it definitely prevented me from burnout! I’m a newbie though, so I can’t handle as high mileage as most marathoners and the cross training kept me moving. Recently, I’ve really gotten into stretching, core, balance exercises, yoga, and rock climbing. The one thing I can’t get into (even though I really want to) is swimming. I just suck at it, and it would take A LOT for me to get good enough to actually enjoy it.
    Jen recently posted..Weekly training recap: 2/11/13My Profile

  34. Nice to see I’m not the only one who battles the cross training desires! I definitely stay on the injury free side when I’m lifting regularly, but it’s tough with a limited time slot available to do both, so I often end up going with just the run. Work in progress…
    Melissa @ Melissa Running It recently posted..The Big P {not a girly post, gents!}My Profile

  35. I disagree about specificity. There is a point of diminishing return. Depending on the individual, that point might be closer than one thinks. For some bodies, the act of running breaks things down more quickly. If not allowed enough time away from running, the body might not repair enough to safely continue with injury-free training. Those individuals would become faster, better, stronger runners by trading running time for cross-training. To be a solid marathoner, one needn’t run exclusively or every day. One can successfully and thoroughly train for a marathon running three days a week and cross-training a lot. When I say successfully, I don’t mean just able to finish. That said, enjoy your runs! Sounds like your training is going great!
    MILF Runner recently posted..WHERE’S MY STEVIA?????My Profile

  36. Because I can’t run every day anymore – I’m a huge fan of cross-training! I love to do new work-outs and try different things. Running is my favorite but I enjoy lots of other things now!
    Kim recently posted..SLEEP – Why Can’t we be Friends???My Profile

  37. I will ALWAYS pick running because it requires the least amount of planning and gear! But training for IM, well, the added disciplines aren’t exactly x training any more.
    But for a marathon? Hey, if you can’t bear the thought of that trainer, don’t do it! But I *do* think cycling has made me a stronger runner. I’m using the same large muscle groups in a different way. Just like running makes me a stronger cyclist!
    But swimming? I’d gladly give it up for yoga, ha! The chlorine and I don’t get along!

    Whatever works for you. Every athlete is different. Sounds like you’ve found what is working for you!!!
    That Pink Girl recently posted..Let’s go to Luckenbach, TexasMy Profile

  38. I like to mix things up but when it comes down to it, aside from my devotion to my strength training running is where my heart is at right now. With the races piling on, I just can’t tear myself away from the sport to spend time doing something else. I hate biking, no matter how often I try.
    Taylor @ LiftingRevolution recently posted..A Partner In Crime & A Killer Soup Recipe!My Profile

  39. I’ve essentially done NO cross training this training cycle. WHOOPS! I also had the best of intentions but running just takes up all my time. When am I supposed to squeeze it in when I also need rest days? Quite a conundrum. But like you said, I’m training for a RUNNING race, so running is what will provide the most benefit.

  40. It’s just as well that I don’t have to cycle to become a better runner because that’s never going to happen. And swimming? Haven’t got me hair wet apart from in the shower and running sweat in a long time. I’m pretty much a one trick pony.
    Char recently posted..Ear WormsMy Profile

  41. I am definitely addicted to my running. Even now, with a bit of an injury I don’t want to bike or swim, all I want to do is run!
    Beth @ Miles and Trials recently posted..Setbacks and StaresMy Profile

  42. I bet the cold weather (cabin fever) ignites your desire to run more than other things. I feel my best when I can run AND CrossFit/Strength train but have not attempted a marathon doing both! :)
    Jess @ Blonde Ponytail recently posted..Prenatal Fitness at Home Workout with DumbbellsMy Profile

  43. I’m terrible at cross training, I love to run and I would rather do that than anything else :)
    Blogging Runner recently posted..Runner’s HighMy Profile

  44. I agree on the notion of “to get better at running, run more”. I sort of mentioned that not too long ago, that I am seeing so much more improvement this training cycle than all of last year with my running, now that I am running more/better. Although I do understand the concept of mixing up the muscles targeted to engage more of them. This training I’m focusing mainly on running more and adding core strength work. I do admit, strength training and cross-training is more of a chore to me. I rather be out running :)
    Christina recently posted..Running for a health charityMy Profile

  45. I could easily write this same type of post right now. I’m taking baby steps with more cross training this winter, in fact I’m doing more than last summer, but it’s still no where what I want to do. We’ll see what spring brings.
    David H. recently posted..The Shamrock goal.My Profile

  46. Ok, good. I do nothing but run. I know it helps, but IT IS JUST SO TIME CONSUMING. Running 4-6 days a week leaves little time for anything else.

    I know I need to do other things… i know. i get it.
    Pavement Runner recently posted..Playlist Thursday and #LoveMusicMy Profile

  47. If it were up to me I would run and only run. But, I stayed injury free last year and most of the year before that and I strongly believe it was because I finally started cross training consistently. That was really the only thing I changed so the proof is there!
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted..Fitness Friday || I’m Challenging #Cathe To Motivate Me for 90 DaysMy Profile

  48. I mean yeah that sums it up. Cross training is great, but you can’t do everything. Focus on what you love, and you will love the results.

  49. it’s so hard to do it all. when I was running, I was very good about pilates and yoga. now that I am doing flywheel (obsessed), not sure I can give it up-even when i start running again. even it it’s only 1xweek.
    elizabeth recently posted..Second OpinionsMy Profile

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