Cross Training

Rest Days.

Cross Training.

Time off.

The more miles you run the better.  The faster the mile is the faster you will run a race.  Go hard or go home. 

These are just some of my favorite topics about running or any endurance sport in general.  Over my past 2 months of eliminating essentially one of my favorite things of the day, I have had plenty of time to read books, blogs and other information about running.  Not limited to any and all of these topics. 

And I have done a lot of thinking.

If you a runner how do you feel about cross training?  How do you feel about taking time away?  Rest days?  A mile is a mile fast or slow?

I feel like there are so many conflicted issues regarding running that I just never had to deal with for swimming.  It’s a well known fact you can over train for swimming and not know the difference.  I’ve spent countless 6 hour days in a pool before (and believe me it sucked).  I didn’t get injured from a week of doing that…it was years.

But that is another story.

Spending a week running too hard can land you some pretty serious and career pausing injuries.  If you were to run for 6 hours a day for a week straight, something (things) would break in your body.  If anything your mind might explode.   Even just upping your miles or running to quickly after a break can lead in injuries.  Everything with this weight bearing exercise eventually leads to injury.

But where was I going again, oh yes. 

Part of my injury problem was overtraining.  I was running mile after mile after mile (X20 for a total of 60 miles) weekly.  Pounding my legs into torture.  Not really torture per say because I felt great doing it (the majority of the time).  Every week that I thought about having a cut week was every week I started off with a few great runs to make me not want to waste those precious good runs.

Rest days…who does that?  (Just kidding I took a few).  But maybe not enough.

So this all leads to how I’m going to change up my routine a little bit eh?  Now that I’m getting back into running, I’m getting back into a routine.  Swimming starts soon (next week wahh!) and once again I’m getting back into that routine.   This post is not about my swimming-I’ll save that for another day.

Until October-I’m going to strictly base build.  Run for time not miles.  (I did that already last year so nothing new…I’ve always done that anyways).  Will that include running everyday?  I don’t know.  If it does, it does.  If it doesn’t.  I won’t worry if my body wants to arc it out that day.  Or do nothing that day.  I can’t force my body to race well if it feels crappy from an overload of bullshit miles.

Going into October, I may do a few speed workouts.  Not many but maybe a couple.  It all really depends on my jive.  By that time practice for swimming will have peaked into 6000-7000 yards.  (voms just thinking about that).

Will I run everyday if it means running meaningless miles if my body feels somewhat crappy?  No.  Will it mean running through some minor pains and aches? Well yes.   I’m not going to force my body to run through pains that will clearly lead to worse things.  I am, however, going to force it to run through cramps, through tired legs and through other minor occurrences.

Here is my tentative plan that I have spoken a lot with my coach about

Monday: cross train or one hour run

Tuesday: morning: easy 45 afternoon: workout

Wednesday: 1 hour run

Thursday: 30 minute tempo

Friday:  Easy 30-1 hour

Saturday: Normally race

Sunday: Long run  1.5 hour run

This should roughly come up to between 45-55 miles.  I won’t get my panties in a bunch if it’s only 40 miles especially if they have been good runs. 

Back to my philosophy on cross training.  I think that doing the elliptical or a machine that simulates running can help keep your endurance up but it will not make you a faster runner.  In my personal opinion, you can substitute easy running for cross training and still get the same benefits as doing that easy run.  You cannot do speed workouts on an elliptical and drop the same amount of time as you do running.

Don’t get me started in swimming because I truly believe they are almost completely different muscles and have little effect on each other.


And finally-since I’m a rather honest person I’ll let you guys in on a secret.  Yesterday, I participated in a cross country race.  No I did not “race race” it, but I needed to run it so that I could stay eligible for NCAA championship races.  Incase you wondered, I finished in 22:10.  There were a few hills, lots of mud and lots and lots wind.  It was on the lake.

I felt great but did not push it at all (that would be silly).  In fact, I have no soreness and my legs are less tight then they were yesterday. 


Chat me up about cross training. 

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  1. What? I will not get faster and better and win the hearts of 12 year old girls everywhere if I run 100 miles a week instead of 200? Bahahaha.

    Well, you know my thoughts about this. Rest is as much a part of the training process as the actual workouts. Don’t rest, and those minor aches and pains turn into nagging injuries. I am living the life right now. And I wasn’t doing crazy miles, but I was running six days a week and racing, racing, racing for six months straight. My body decided it was old and tired and since I hadn’t rested enough, it was going to force me to do so. Price I am paying for stubbornness.

    I am going to build step-down weeks into my training from now on. Like you said, it’s too easy to get caught up in your legs feeling great and having good work outs and skip them.

    Off to practice my Beyonce dance moves on the elliptical. Totally counts as crosstraining.

  2. I am basically with you – I can swim every day for 2-3 hours for months. But I can’t really run more than 3 days in a row. It beats my legs into nothing and makes me achy. But I love running 3-4x/week.

    Oh and cycling. I know it is your bestie.

  3. I used to NEVER crosstrain. It was 8 miles per day (and longer on weekends), all on pavement, every single day. If I missed a day (which basically never happened), I’d distribute those miles over the next few days so I always hit my total.

    Based on never taking a break, alongside years as a pre-professional ballet dancer plus hours of aerobics plus osteoporosis, I’ve had a ton of foot injuries, and my most recent one put me in a cast for 4 months. My foot still isn’t back to normal and other than prepping for and racing in an olympic-d tri in august (and 2 weeks in another country with no gym), I’ve been running very little. I vary my non-swimming cardio, using the bike (*gasp!*), elliptical, strider, and arctrainer, and I know my base is still there, endurance wise. Since I’m not running competitively, speed isn’t a huge concern until I want it to be, and I know I NEED to give my injury time to heal and to work back to running.

  4. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on all this and you seem to have your head screwed on about it.
    I definitely find you inspiring- for many things as well as your awesome athletic abilitity( clearly my talent is alliteration). You motivate me so much to swim better and all the rest of it(including making pancakes).
    I just know you’ll excell in whatever you choose to do:)

  5. pft running does a number on my body. Never have I done anything that rips my body into pieces if I do it too often. I grew up in the water and the only injury I endured was a bad shoulder after years and years of swimming. It still bothers me if I swim for say 2-3 hours but I don’t so it’s all good.
    Anyway I do love crosstraining. I just wish my body loved running as much as my mind loves it.

  6. I just vomed about the 6000-7000 as well haha. I only used to take rest days when I was too busy, but now I am starting to recognize the importance of them. Gotta listen to your body!

  7. Awesome thoughts about running/x-training! I don’t run high-mileage, but I do tend to get shin splints if I run 5+ days in a week and run multiple days in a row. I usually stick with 3-4 days a week, alternating days for running, and cross training/rest days the rest of the week. I never used to x-train, but now I love the change and do weights, yoga, or spinning on non-running days. Sometimes elliptical, but I get SO bored on that thing. Is your running time plan above that + swimming?

  8. I like and agree with your approach in running for time as opposed for miles. This is a good way to get back into running after an injury. Your running plan looks good for this month. I hope everything goes for you in the training department. (I ran 22:09 2 weeks ago when my knee wasn’t taped…I’m surprised I even finished the race!)

  9. I totally agree — doing speed training on an elliptical may help your cardiovascular health, but I don’t think it will make you a faster runner. That just wouldn’t make sense!

    I like cross training because it lets me get in exercise, get some sweat going, but I’m not working the same muscles I use while running.

  10. Ugh.. overtraining is a bitch. I just love to run and train but I have definitely fallen prey to doing too much and going too hard. Cross Training has been great for me. Mostly because I’ve been forced to do it in times of “base building” where I might go hard when I shouldn’t be and get injured again. Also I’ve taken up to two weeks off in the middle of the season, cross trained like hell, and come back to PR. I don’t think it made me faster – I think it gave my body the time to recover though. I think cross training is great for preserving, but not gaining fitness. Oh and your 5k is pretty marvelous for coming off an injury.

  11. If I could just run, I would. Except now my body hates me and my foot hurts so I can’t run. Well, I ran today in my race with no pain, but I bet in the morning I won’t be able to walk.

    I only stick to the elliptical and spin class while cross training. I think spin may make me quicker actually. I don’t know. The elliptical just helps me keep sane and my athleticism up there. I hope that’s a word.

  12. dudeeeeeeeee you know i totally feeel yaaa i wish i could run every single day but i guess my body just cant keep up with repairing that quickly. i think it is so important to not run for miles and rather focus on time….i just need to remember thisss!<3

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