“Crosstraining” is a goofy word that gets tossed around and really amounts to doing something else besides running. For some, this is no problem, as they have other activities they love doing. For the OCD runners like me, it’s hard to skip a run for something else. Is it necessary? I think so.
I pretty much just did running since high school, a million years ago. I had a couple stints with biking, hiking, and lots of dog walking. I tried to do a little upper body and core stuff, but nothing that anyone could really call exercise. My intro to yoga was my huge wake up call. 4 years ago a friend took me to a very introductory class, and I was shocked how hard it was for me. I had a lot of weak areas I had really neglected over the years. Overnight I decided a regular yoga practice was for me. I immediately started going at least once a week. Pre-Jasper I would go 2-3 times a week, and I saw a big difference pretty quick. You aren’t going to build big muscles with yoga, but I like that it’s a head to toe work out and involves a lot of core work, which I have come to see as a necessary evil. Now that I sit on my ass all day at my job, my puny back muscles and not so flat gut need extra help. Throwing my back out while I was pregnant convinced me I do not want to have an injured back ever again.
Running is cheap, easy, accessible, and a great stress relief. But it can be hard on your body. Doing something that involves other muscles will only prolong your running years. Now, I do say this is for “real” runners….as in busy people with lots going on. Finding time to do another activity is really hard. Here’s what works for me: I just shoot for my one day. If I cannot do it, I completely commit to one night with a yoga DVD, even if I am super tired. Just one night. No it’s not the same, but once in a while at least it prevents me from falling off the wagon into doing nothing but running. I also build 15 minutes at least after every run into my schedule to do some yoga. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. Down the road when Jasper is a little older, I know I will get back to going a couple evenings a week. You don’t have to do yoga, but pick something that works some other muscles that running doesn’t. Try to do it just one day a week, but be consistent. Commit to that one day. If you have a flexible schedule and can do more, go for it. So many marathoners get injured and if you want to be in it for the long term, you HAVE to work on your weak areas. BTW, I tried pilates once and thought it was the best workout I had ever done, but it’s super expensive and I’ve yet to find a place with a schedule that works for me. Apparently this is an exercise for those without jobs who also have nannies.
Also…I would add if there is anyway at all you can afford it, shoot for a massage about every 6 weeks. I’ve done this for a few years now, and it’s really not that much money in the long term. It helps for someone to point out the areas where you tend to get tight and you can work on them in between appts. While you’ll feel like a complete idiot, a foam roller is great. It’s $15 or so at Target and it works. Feeling a little silly and a $15 dollar investment isn’t much to keep me from a chronic injury.
Finally, post marathon, I try to pile on all the yoga that I can. I am far from a fitness role model. But I’ll do what I need to do to be running when I’m 90.