Competitor Group, Inc.

Cross Training

by | Feb 01, 2010 |

Over the past few months I have had a few questions about injuries and what I do to stay fit, so I wanted to dedicate this blog to cross training.

I always seem to come back from injuries better than ever, and I feel I have a pretty good grasp on what it takes to get back to peak form quickly.  I think when I am done running I should just coach injured runners and send them back to their coaches ready to go.  There is no secret recipe to cross training, and you don’t have to have access to an Alter-G treadmill, even though they are much more readily available and the easiest way to simulate actual outdoor running. However, the type of injury you have will dictate what range of cross training you will be able to do.  

I have had every kind of injury possible, and have maintained my fitness through each one, but I think the key to maintaining fitness is to always think high intensity!  High intensity exercise is really the only way I think you can simulate a true running effort.  I don’t believe it does anything for you to go out for an easy four hour bike ride.  The thing about running is that your HR average is much higher than the average you would get from most other activities.  If I was to go out for an easy 45 minute run at 6:30 per mile, I would probably have a HR around 140 BPM.  Unless you have been doing a lot of a specific activity such as swimming or biking, it is hard muscularly to solely do the same form of cross training day after day, but I think mentally it can be even more difficult if you have to continue the same cross training activity for several months.  An easy 45 minute bike ride can be mind numbing for a runner, and before you know it, you just rode 45 minutes at 120 HR, and really didn’t get much benefit out of that workout.  However, I’ve found that if you do 45 minutes of 30 seconds on 30 seconds off, or one minute on one minute off, you can get a much higher calorie burn and higher HR average, and at the same time it was much easier mentally to tolerate the session.  Even threshold workouts can be done, with just a variation of different intervals at slightly different paces.  This helps to shake things up while keeping a high heart rate average.

Another huge component to cross training is strength training.  Weights, core, and modified drills can make your comeback much easier.  One thing people often forget is that you may be able to continue some drills that do not effect the injured area.  For example, if you have a metatarsal problem, you may be able to do several drills that don’t involve toe off, in turn, this can really help your biomechanics to come back quickly.

My final advice for maintaining fitness while battling injuries, is to try to spend the same amount of time each day, plus 30 minutes of aerobic training, at the same HR, as you would have running outdoors.  I have found that these tips are a good example of what to do on a daily basis to keep your fitness high while taking a step back from running.  These little tips have worked for me.  Let me know what you guys have done for workouts in the past?