I am a runner. While I did not run in high school or college, I am a runner. It was not until I reached my peak weight of 220lbs and sitting in a cubicle that I knew I needed to do something. Running became what drove the weight off, along with stress and some self-diagnosed depression. Running saved me.
While I will always tell people I am a first and foremost a runner, all the other things I do work to make me a better runner. I am a Crossfitter. I am a Triathlete. I am an Obstacle Course Racer. I enjoy GORUCK events. By staying as well-rounded as possible I see more gains on my runs. People think they need to be one thing and all identification stops there. I think you need to do the things that are exciting and have fun doing them!
So what is the point of this blog? Cross training is good for you!
I started Crossfit about 2 years ago at the urges of my wife. She had already been going for a year or so and kept pushing and pushing for me to come. I was worried about getting too big or slowing down my runs (and lots of other excuses – like you people are crazy and a cult!!!!). Once I started it only took about a week before I was hooked, as much by the community as the workouts themselves. Being a competitive person, Crossfit gave me an alternative avenue to push myself.
Did I get bigger? I probably lost weight if anything, but my body composition changed. I developed lean muscle, a stronger core and my body fat dropped even more. Abs started to pop out where nothing had been before.
Did I get Strong? You bet I did.
Did you lose speed? Nope! I got faster, while running less!
The amount of work on core strength really carries over to running. Not to mention the amount of squats to strengthen your legs. And, probably the least talked about, lots of gained mobility works to help you stay loose and injury free.
I have dabbled in triathlons on and off for the last few years. My biggest complaint is the time it takes to train for three disciplines. Ironically the training is what I enjoy most.
Swimming helps with my breathing while running, keeping it steady and strong.
Biking builds some strong leg muscles with less impact than that on the run. If you have some hills to train on it is even better. You do not even need a road bike. I did most of my miles this summer on my mountain bike between my house and the gym. Made for a nice warm up and cool down on both sides of my workout.
About 6 months after starting, I ran a sub 20 minute 5K at 6,500 feet in the Colorado Rockies.
A year of doing Crossfit, I ran a 17:02 5K! I have run 10k’s, Half Marathons and 200 mile relays. All with faster, stronger times than when I was only running.
Best of all, at 37 I love my body! Not something I could say at 17 or 27.
My final thought? Diversify your workouts and your running and body will thank you.