i love cross training

Mixing it up – why cross-training helps

For most of last year I was focussed on running. But having now ticked a couple of goals off my list I’m spending less time on the road. But that doesn’t mean I’m training any less. In fact, I’m probably exercising more and having more fun as well.

The Two Bays Trail Run was an all-consuming goal. Not only did it represent the longest run I’d set myself but it was also the most physically demanding. In the 12 weeks or so leading to that race, I built my training volume up from around 90-100km per month to almost 170km.

After the race it was clear that my body and brain needed a rest. But I didn’t want to lose the fitness and conditioning I’d built up. That meant looking for new ways to exercise that kept my body active without mentally fatiguing me.

i love cross trainingMy training since Two Bays has included several different activities. I’ve been bike riding, swimming, played tennis, lifted some weights and even done an aerobics class (although any resemblance between the Body Attack class I did and the stuff Olivia Newton John showed in the Physical film-clip is purely coincidental)

As a result my body has felt fresher and many of the little niggles that had crept up while my mileage increased have disappeared.

Weight Training

I’m back to regularly lifting weights. I’m following a simple program that focusses on compound exercises. My aim is to complete the workout in 30 minutes. That means there’s no time for messing around between sets or taking extra long breaks.

Weight TrainingHere’s my workout.

  • Pushups
  • Bodyweight squats
  • Bench Press and Bent-over dumbbell rows  – three supersets of no more than 10 reps.
  • Squat and barbell curl – three supersets of no more than 10 reps
  • Deadlift and dumbbell lateral raises – three supersets of no more than 10 reps
  • Two or three sets of 30 crunches

With the weights – I’m working with enough to make eight reps hard work. I’m training on my own without a spotter most of the time so I have to play it a little safe. Once I can do 10 reps I increase the weight slightly.


bikeWith this, I’m a lot less structured. I’m a relative newbie at cycling. Although I had bike as a kid, I never really got into it and I’ve avoided the whole MAMIL thing. But after riding a borrowed bike for a little while, I’ve bought myself a bike and now use it for commuting and recreational riding on the local trails.

So, now, whenever I need to go anywhere that’s within a few kilometres of home I just jump on the bike. Aside from the health benefits, it’s better for the environment and, in many cases, faster than driving.

Other activities

Swimming, some tennis, playing in the park – all of these are great fun and contribute to my recovery from running and maintaining my fitness. in fact, I’m certain that they are improving some aspects of my overall fitness that have been neglected over the last few months. For example, agility, flexibility and hand-eye coordination are all improved by these other activities.


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