Kara Goucher says, “Cross train during injury recovery, for all around fitness, and to improve your running,”
What is cross training? Cross training is a physical activity other than running (elliptical, cycling, swimming, hiking) that keeps your heart elevated like running does.
Forms of Cross training are great because they work muscles differently than running does. Variation in training helps you:
- Become leaner so you can run faster
- Give your tired running muscles a rest so you can push harder the next day
- Avoid over use injuries
- Heal current running injuries without losing cardiovascular shape
This past weekend, battling a self inflicted overused calf/achilles I needed to find another activity to get my heart rate up. I chose to hike with friends. Saturday I climbed Oyster Dome near Bellingham, WA on Chuckanut Dr. Oyster dome is 2.75 miles to the top with 2000 feet of elevation gain. It has some relatively flat points along the way up with a good .25 miles of aggressive incline. The best part of climbing Oyster Dome is the gorgeous view at the top of the Puget Sound and San Juan islands.
Sunday I met up with other friends for a slightly more aggressive hike. We decided to brave Mailbox Peak. It involves a hideous 4000 feet elevation gain in 2.5 miles.
Considering I thought the one major climb of Oyster Dome was work the day before, you can imagine my joy (read sarcasm) to find the entire climb of Mailbox was a steeper incline than the killer hill the day before. Needless to say my heart rate was elevated for the entire 2 hours and change it took us to reach the top.
Despite the burning quads I have now from the trek back down, my calf and Achilles were feeling excellent by the time my speed work rolled around on Tuesday. Remember if your body isn’t feeling it, one stupid run can sacrifice your training for a week or longer. Be smart, get creative, and cross train when you need to. Your body will thank you.