If you remember in the spring I read and reviewed the book Run Less Run Faster from Runner's World. I began to process the concept of running less and being able to maintain a level of fitness. I liked it and trained for my marathons in May that way.
It worked out well. I would have probably PR'd at the Vermont Marathon at the end of May, had I not been sick and gotten even sicker while running. Anywho, that is long since gone.
When I got injured, I tore my calf muscle :/ was in a boot and on crutches for a few weeks and told there would be no running for 8 weeks I had a panic attack. Ok, well we all know it was much more dramatic than that, but anywho, those days are luckily behind us too ;)
What I want to talk about is cross training and just how beneficial it was to me. I was running marathons and had a strong base mileage built up. I was really worried how not running for 8 weeks would take my base away and take months to build up. I felt defeated for a few days following injury and then I made a choice. I got a bathing suit, I got to the YMCA, and I got moving.
I took the training plans in the book and I used them again. I swam and rowed on the rowing machine every day. I was not going to give up. I also maintained core and upper body strength by doing modified strength training and trx still. I was amazed at just how much I could still do while wearing the boot.
The important thing I learned is the body will maintain some level of fitness and cardiovascular maintenance while doing other forms of exercise outside of running. Running is not the end all be all. And this book, really helps you realize that cross training can be very beneficial, it takes the weight and pressure off your legs but allows you to mimic the running training and form in some ways.
I trained like that for 7 weeks. I got sick of seeing the inside of the pool and the gym walls and I longed to run again, but I was grateful that I at least had it. I maintained a hope that I would be running again soon and that it would not be like starting over on day 1.
When I got the OK from my physical therapist to start running again, easy runs, I went out for a 3 miler and remember feeling like wow this is not that bad. I think that first 3 miler I maintained a steady 9 minute mile pace and I was kind of surprised. I added in 2 other 6 mile runs that week and when Sunday long run day came did 7. I felt ok.
The week after I did the same thing 2 week runs around 5-6 miles and that weekend, I ran a half marathon 13.1 miles in just shy of 2 hours. I could not believe it. I was happy and proud of myself that I was able to maintain my training somewhat enough to be running so well again. The next weekend was 16 miles and this past weekend I knocked out my first (of many hopefully) 20 miler.
After last weekend, I had the feeling of ok this is doable, I really think this cross training works. But after this weekend I can firmly stand here and say 'I Believe'. Everyone is asking me how I do it, how did I do it, and how is it possible?
Train Less Run Faster, in my case it was no running for 7 weeks but cross train like a determined relentless crazy person and you will run again. I started running again 3 weeks ago and am already back to my 9 minute mile long runs and doing speed work once again in the low 7s. It is not quite as speedy as I was early spring (8 min long runs and low6s for speed) BUT it is much closer than I had anticipated I would be. It is much much better than I ever dreamed possible in such a short time. I honestly did not think I would be able to run 20 miles after being back to running for only 3 weeks, but I knew that I had to give it my best and try.
I am so glad I did. I am so glad I never gave up. I think about what might have happened if I sat around for 7 weeks just being injured and doing nothing. I know that 20 mile run would not be possible. And I probably would not be able to run my fall marathon and ultra.
Have you found cross training to be helpful during times of non running or even to supplement running?