Cross Training – When not to!

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With my recent decision to start training full time, I inquired to an ex-pro triathlete friend of mine, for some advice.

My concern was on what to do while not running. How much cross training, yoga, strength work, drills, mobility, etc do I do in relation to the amount of actual running I am doing.

His response was quite simple.

Your goal should be to run so much, that you don’t have the energy, want, or desire to go to yoga, lift weights, etc.

1 hour of EZ running > 1 hour of yoga, an hour of strength work, etc.

Of course I do a 10-15 minute warm up and cool down before and after every run, and this includes plyometrics, drills, strength, etc. My question was about going and doing extra work aside from the work that immediately surrounds running. So not all GSM will stop, but “extra curricular” work will.

Completely coincidentally, the day after I we talked, the answer to my question was on the very first page I read that day in Running with the Kenyans.

The author, Adharanand Finn, says how most athletes are jobless, because they are too tired. One he talks to had to quit working at a cafe because it made him too tired. Many rely solely on the donations and support of friends and family to support them. Really, all they need is money for food and maybe rent. They have no debt, no electricity, and no running water.

Finn also mentioned he once asked the British athletes in Iten what they perceived to be the most striking difference between the Kenyans and their own training. All of them said rest!

In England when we’re not running, we go shopping, cook food, meet up with friends. Here they just rest.”

I realized I’m quite lucky. My job is on the computer, so I’m not doing manual labor, stressing over something I dislike, having to be to work at 9am. My hours are my own. I can sleep in if I feel the need. I can sit around at a cafe for a few hours and work, or sit around on the couch and work. I do perform the majority of the housework because Desi leaves the house for school at 7am and does not return until 4:30 at the very earliest, however this cooking, doing dishes and laundry is about the extend of my non-running physical work. I’m in a perfect position to rest as much as I need to.

So now, the next step is to slowly and safely get back up to higher mileage!