Running Tuesdays: Post-Surgery Cross Training

I’ve had two neck surgeries. The first one was in 2006 where one disc was fused. After that surgery I didn’t have to figure out what running looked like because I wasn’t a runner then. Running started for me a year later.

Once I started running it was like I found what I had been missing. Entering races helped me do what comes naturally, set goals and push for more. All that came to a stall again in 2014 when I had to have two more discs fused. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate even more the value of cross training.

But let me back up. I haven’t always valued cross training. In fact, I avoided it for several years. Very few things interested me without the movement of running. So I would kid myself that tennis, which I enjoyed, was sufficient cross training. And when other people told me their cross training habits, I just shook my head. “That’s not for me.”

So I dabbled. I’d swim occasionally. I’d occasionally utilize the gym by the pool where I lived. But I had to make myself. I dabbled for 4 years. 

Finally, I decided I wanted to dedicate myself to getting under the 4:00 mark on my 2012 marathon. So I started working with a trainer at YouFit. We focused mostly on core and legs, which I immediately saw benefits. He also challenged me with plyometrics, which I loved. Result, met my goal with a 3:57 in Savannah.

Forward to 2014. Post surgery was not going as well as hoped, as far as seeing my neck handle running like the surgeon said it would. For a year I struggled. All I could successfully do was walk, which drove me crazy. At my year review in October 2015, the surgeon said he finally believed I should do physical therapy; he hadn’t thought I needed it immediately after surgery, but said maybe that’s the answer. He was right.

The simple strength building was exactly what I needed. It’s now another year later and I can’t imagine not doing these things now. And that includes other things I forced myself to do during my year of “what is going on?”  In that year of frustration my dabbling included swimming and learning the value of yoga for runners. 

Thanks to this time of learning these past two years, I have a reasonable cross training plan that works for me. Could it be more intense? Sure. Should it be? I’ll put it this way-if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Running Tuesdays: Smart Cross Training

by Monika Oberer

I joined a class to train for my first half marathon; it was only running involved. After finishing my first half-marathon, I was hooked in to running and wanted more! A full marathon!  I started to read more about running and spend more time with runners. Overall I had the feeling that only “real” runner athletes need to cross train. Me-I’m new and not at all on a upper level of this sport.

As I started to train for my first full marathon a friend of mine said, “You can run a lot of miles to train, but if your upper body muscles are weak you will never run proud looking up to the sky.” That made me think, and I tried some home exercises. I have never been to a gym and was very intimadated by the thought of going to a gym where everyone sees me not being in shape.  One day I did a long run and I could not look straight up; my shoulders hurt and I was in upper-body pain. THAT WAS IT!

I started to go to a gym 3 times a week for 30 -45 min. And of course I started to like it! I very much liked the fact that my body started to change! I started to feel proud at my runs!  So as I added weight to my X Training I became more and more aware that it helps my running, and that’s all I wanted!  I did finish my first marathon in Miami looking up to the sky proud and said, “Chicago, I am coming to get you!”

As I trained for the 2014 Chicago Marathon my dear friend Lorraine and I ran 5-6 times a week in the morning and went to the gym after work 3 times a week. It was a lot of training BUT so much fun!! We pushed each other at the gym hard and it started to show and we could feel it! OH CHICAGO, we were ready! And we had an amazing race.

Then Lorraine introduced me to something I, for a month, said I would NEVER do… (well never say never with good friends) Cross Fit LWR. Box jumps, pull ups, Trusters, deadlifts, burpees, back Squat, clean and Jerk, Kettlebel swing, pushups……… WHAT ???? Anyone trying to kill me??? 

Yes, I did sign up and did the beginner’s class. That week I learned that I had muscles I did not know existed in my body. However I started to like it as much as I hated it. And the gang there was so welcoming and supportive, so it made it easy to stay. The different movements I have learned have also strengthened muscles to help me prevent injury and keep me going! 

I have now been doing Cross Fit 3 times a week with running 3-4 times a week for 22 months. I can see and feel the difference in my running performance. I don’t think I would be as strong of a runner and would have not accomplished so much in the last 2 years without Cross Training.  Of course, every runner does Cross training their own way; I just believe that ANY smart cross Training will improve your injury-free running and most importantly your health and fitness level. 

Don’t we active people want to do this forever? 

Running Tuesdays-Cross Training’s Many Benefits

by Lorraine Kennimouth-Williams

I was so against cross training, not because I thought it bad or harmful in anyway; I just felt if I was going to put the time and effort into training, why not invest it in running. Why do anything but run? I love to run! 

In 2014 I ran 5 marathons, each one of the first three becoming progressively faster. (The last two were “throw-aways”). I’ve asked myself lately what I was doing differently back then to achieve those faster times. The answer ….I was cross training! I was riding my road bike twice weekly, and it made quite a difference to my times. At the time I didn’t realize what a difference it was making. I was riding my bike because it was new and it was fun and it offered the excitement of a novelty; it was also partly guilt since it was not inexpensive! Fast forward to mid/late 2015 and I had not ridden my bike in over 12 months, using the extra time to run more miles and guess what? My times became slower! I could not manage to match or surpass my 2014 times. 

Cross training has many different benefits, and so people cross train for a number of different reasons. One of the most common reasons I see is injury prevention. When switching up a routine, one is invariably switching up the muscle groups used, therefore resting one set of muscles while strengthening others. This makes perfect sense. I have friends who state their reasons for cross training is to “mix it up.” They would go crazy otherwise with the boredom of doing the same thing over and over. My reason….. to become a faster, more efficient runner! That simple really. I want to be better! And that’s why I started to cross train again. Of course I don’t want to battle injuries either, but knowing that cross training can help prevent injuries is just an added bonus that comes with getting faster! I didn’t start to cross train due to boredom either because I was never bored; however, it does offer a nice change to running, and again it was an added bonus.

I started to get serious about cross training earlier this year when I began attending my local gym 3 to 4 times a week. I do isolation weight training along with core strengthening exercises, and it feels GOOD! I am clearly stronger. I look stronger, and I am running stronger. I finished the Detriot Marathon two weeks ago, 20 minutes faster than my previous marathon, just 5 minutes slower than my fastest marathon. So… I believe the cross training is paying off. I have plans to dust my road bike off too this weekend in an attempt to strengthen my hamstrings and extend my endurance with my goal being to run my fastest marathon ever in May 2017. Stay tuned ….

Running Tuesdays: Cross Training Is a Must

by Michael Wilder

The first time I heard about Cross Training was in an article I read in Runner’s World Magazine. This article caught my eye because it was next to the article about what type of running shoe you need to have this year. Being a beginner runner, I read the article and then stored it away in my mind and left it there. I thought cross training was extra work you could put into your training. I was under the impression that running 3 days a week was good enough for my marathon training. Boy, how wrong was I in November 2013!

Around Thanksgiving, I ran the longest run so far in my training for my first marathon. It was about 18 miles, and all I remember was the pain I had in my right knee. I didn’t know why I had that pain, but it hurt and only Tylenol helped. After doing research about knee pain for runners, I had to ice it and take it easy for a couple of weeks. Right in the middle of my training for the marathon, I had to stop. I was depressed and worried! Even when I got back into running after a couple of weeks off, my knee still hurt. The truth is that even today my knee still bothers me. From my research I found out that my knee injury could have been prevented with cross training. With strength training and flexibility my knee would have been fine. But I didn’t cross train at that time. Now heading into my 3rd marathon you bet I cross train! I cross train to avoid injury and to help with my running.

My current schedule for cross training is twice a week, in between my runs. For example, I run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday/Saturday; I cross train Tuesday and Thursdays if time allows. I make my runs mandatory in the morning, but if I don’t get to my cross training until the evenings it’s not the end of the world. Anything I do beyond running is only a benefit. Doing something is better than not doing anything at all!

What I do for cross training is at-home strength training and yoga. I love doing yoga and encourage every runner to do yoga! Yoga helps me be flexible, speed up recovery, and promote breathing. I use a DVD that provides a variety of yoga poses. You can check it out here:

Cross training is a must for me! If you are a beginner runner, I suggest you start cross training now. If you are a runner who does it now and then, don’t worry about it. No matter what for all people, just go out and do something. Be active and stay healthy.