After improving my running by focussing on nutrition and rest, it’s time to take it to another level. So, I’ve decided to incorporate cross training as a part of my regular training in the eighth phase of the 100daysofrunning challenge. Let me break down the concept of cross training for you 🙂 First thing first…
What is Cross Training?
Oxford dictionary defines cross training as:
For running- it’s basically to improve our running performance by engaging in other sports. For example, I love to ride a cycle so I’ve decided to use cycling as my cross-training sport.
Now you might be wondering what is the need of cross training. Isn’t one can improve his running by running more? I completely understand your concern because once I also used to think so. Now let’s discuss:
Why Cross Training is Important?
Before we get deep into the importance of cross training, I want to share one of my experience with you.
It was the time for ADHM (Airtel Delhi Half Marathon) 2016 and my target was to finish it under 01:20:00. It was a huge target for me and still is. I had also registered for Bhatti Ultra-80km, which was just one month before ADHM. While preparing for my first ultra I didn’t focus on my speed training. And my target got shifted from 01:20:00 to 1:35:00.
After finishing Bhatti Ultra, I got an injury in my left knee and my training suffered a lot. It was very hard for me to run so at that time I started cycling. After 10 days or so I started running. Once I was returning home after a run on my bicycle and a car was about to hit me from the back. On time I realized it and to avoid the accident I took my bicycle off road.
While doing so my left foot went into a pit and the impact was again on my not-so-well knee. This time the impact was so severe that I could not even able to walk properly. Now my training suffered a lot but I kept on cycling. My target shifted from 01:35:00 to just cross the finish line under three hours. It was very hard time, I took complete rest from running just before an important race.
On the race day, I went to the start line, I started running strong. Somehow my cardio-vascular system was with me, I was not feeling any pain in my left knee too. But at 13km mark the pain again came to life and it was hurting like hell. Taking left step was easy but taking the right step felt like hell because my left knee couldn’t able to bear the body weight.
I kept on going while singing my favorite song in my head. I finished the race in 1 hour and 47 minutes. It was a great achievement for me. I couldn’t able to believe on this, I kept thinking about my run. Though my legs were not with me and my heart was with me fully. At no point, I gasped for air and that was totally strange and surprising to me.
I was not getting the point that how my cardiovascular system was so strong even I have not trained properly. Around one month ago I understood it when I was reading the chapter Cross Train Like Meb from the book Meb for Mortals.
It was clear to me that the cycling I kept on doing at that time was behind my surprising performance in ADHM 2016. By doing cycling, I was pushing my cardiovascular system without even impacting my knee. This is like killing two birds with one stone. My cardiovascular system was getting better and I was recovering too.
Running more definitely help us to perform our best. But there is always a limit for everyone, if he runs beyond that then there are very high chances of getting injured. So to improve beyond that saturation point one should definitely incorporate cross training into his schedule. Let me summarize this section:
Now you’re sure that you should cross-train if you are serious about your running. Next, let’s discuss:
How to Cross-Train?
As I’ve already said that I love cycling and that’s why I use cycling as my perfect cross training partner. Not only it helps me to make my cardiovascular system strong it also works as strength training for my legs specially for the quadriceps.
Right now I do 30-40 minutes of cycling almost daily; sometimes it can go beyond one hour too. Sukhna Lake (the place where I run most of the times) is around 4km from my place so often I use cycling as my warm up and cool down as well.
Besides cycling, you can also do swimming, aqua jogging, yoga, or Zumba as your cross-training activity. Basically, it should be as close as possible to running in terms of aerobic system uses. Cross-training activity should push your cardiovascular system. It should not be so hard that your recovery time increases.
About Eighth Phase
I have a total blast in the eighth phase, I also took my endurance to another level by successfully running 15 km for five consecutive days, it was an awesome experience to have under my feet. I ran barefoot in all the 5 runs. here is this phases’ summary-
Summary of the Eighth Phase
I ran a total of 90.4 km in the total time of 8 hours 7 minutes 45 seconds with an average speed of 11.12 km/hr and took total 87252 steps averaging 178.9 strides/minute.
I also have fun while putting my experience into words. Hope my phases are helping or inspiring you. If so then please let me know by commenting below.