Cross Training for Curmudgeons

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It's so easy to fall into the mental attitude that the only way to become a better runner or that the only exercise that "counts" is running. Runners can be stubborn and snobby like that; who knew? The formula of more miles resulting in better times and personal records seems to add up, right? Not necessarily! While it is important to have consistency in running, increasing mileage too fast or skipping rest days can sometimes lead to injury--literally stopping you in your tracks. 

I'll be the first to admit that the above-mentioned attitude about mileage was mine for years. I ran around five miles a day, seven days a week for years. And cross training? I barely considered it a "real" work out. I was running on fatigued legs, and my race times and general physical fitness was plateauing.  Plus, running the same routes time and time again began to make getting out there each day harder and harder. Luckily, my change in attitude came in the form of an 8 pound, 13 ounce baby boy! After waiting the requisite six weeks to begin working out again, I was eager to lace up my shoes and pound the pavement again. My body, though, had different ideas. 

I wasn't ready to jump back into running every day, like I thought I would be. And my sleep schedule and daily life with a new baby to care for didn't give me time to be away from the house for an hour at a time to run solo. I started out by running for just 15 to 20 minutes, three or four times a week. The real game-changer, though, was adding in a fitness class. I started attending and teaching a class offered by Fit4Mom called Stroller Strides. Stroller Strides is a class designed by moms for moms, and the best part is that you get to bring your baby along with you. It's completely tailored to fit the needs of mothers, correcting muscle imbalances, improving posture, and increasing cardio endurance. All of these are needed to keep up with a growing child and to continue to heal from childbirth, but just as importantly, it's an amazing way to give your body a rest from running while strengthening it in the process.  Voila! I was hooked on cross training. 

I chose a mommy and me fitness class as my cross training of choice, but if you'd like to work out without a child in tow, or if you don't have children, there are tons of great options for cross training. You can swim, cycle, do pool running, or hop on an elliptical machine. You can take a local barre or cardio class. This is the beauty of cross training: it's a change of pace and a way to rest from running and strengthen your body at the same time! Take it from me, a former cross training curmudgeon: you won't regret it. Get out there and challenge your body to do something new once in a while!

Colleen Beatty is a wife and mama, as well as a lifelong runner and Catholic She grew up in the hills of Southwestern Wisconsin, just across the road from her beloved red brick Catholic church, and wore out her running shoes on gravel roads before moving south to attend the University of Dallas. Under the hot Texan sun, she ran four years of track and field, as well as cross country, and she received her bachelor of English there in 2015. She now lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, teaches fitness classes, and coaches track and cross country, all while chasing after her very active little boy.