Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cross-training and strength training

Before I trained for my spring half marathon, I had never done much to incorporate cross-training or strength training into my running routine.  I have flirted with some Pilates workouts before, but I never really committed to doing them regularly.  However, knowing that I wanted to be strong throughout the training cycle, I made a conscious decision to incorporate cross-training and strength training twice per week.  And I did it: I consistently included such workouts twice a week for the duration of the training plan.  However, I quickly discovered that treadmill speed walking does not hold the same allure as running and therefore could not motivate me to wake up at dark o'thirty.  More often than not, I did these non-running workouts during my kids' afternoon nap, which though not ideal, worked out well enough.

Since January, I've embraced a number of different cross-training options: yoga for runners, barre-style workouts, speed walking on the treadmill (while watching guilty pleasure TV shows), and Pilates.  I continually search for ways to keep cross-training fresh and fun so that I stick with it, both for my mental and my physical well-being.  Running remains my preferred activity, but I believe four days per week is the most running my body can handle.  Still craving some me-time the rest of the week, cross-training has stepped in to keep me sane and strong.

When cross-training, I strive to include at least 20 minutes of strength work, relying on exercises I can do at home with little to no equipment.  Last winter, I used two formalized routines provided by the Another Mother Runner challenge, and I still incorporate many of those exercises into my strength workouts today.  Among my favorites: planks, side planks, squats, bridge, hunting dog, calf raises, tricep dips, and one-legged squats.  My least favorites, which I've abandoned as my one tiny form of rebellion, are v-sits and chest raises.  And one that I hate but keep because it is good for me: pushups.

I'm with you, T-Rex...

As I once again embark on a half marathon training plan, I intend to renew my commitment to cross/strength training twice per week.  I'm off to a good start: Monday featured a 20-minute strength circuit followed by a yoga routine for hips and hamstrings.  What are your preferred forms of cross-training?  Do you have any strength moves I should add to my repertoire?