Sunday night, after having concluded the Clarksburg 20-Miler about eight hours earlier, I really didn't feel like doing my standard post-long-run swim.
My legs didn't feel bad at all. Why not skip it this time? Besides, when we returned to our humble Davis abode after dinner, we discovered that two of our kids' bikes had been stolen from the front porch. So that meant having the police come out so we could file a report, yadda yadda.
The point is, I wanted to ditch my routine of doing an easy 800-to-1,200 yards of freestyle in the pool about eight hours after a long run. I shamed myself into going, though. And, lo and behold, I pulled myself out of the pool after 20 minutes with nearly all the tightness gone from my legs and hips.
During this heavy (for me, at least) period of weekly mileage in the high 50s, I've cut down on my cross training. No more cycling; I'm paranoid it'll aggravate my $^&*@# sacroiliac problem. But I have continued to swim -- only three days a week, not five or six, as I had in spring and summer while training for sprint triathlons.
I've really become a convert to swimming as cross training for running. For years -- nay, decades -- I snubbed my nose at the mere mention of cross training. I liked to run. Just run. But, as I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate the break my joints get during "active rest."
I'm a terrible swimmer, by the way. (I did take a class and improved my stroke, but still...) That's not the point. The point is to gain and maintain fitness and adding volume by other means without beating up your body.
And, as marathoner and author Matt Fitzgerald points out in his 2004 book, "Runner's World Guide to Cross Training" (Rodale, $15.95, 244 pages), cross training helps alleviate any muscle imbalances runners might harbor.
Fitzgerald gives plenty of examples of runners who have incorporated cross training into their training: Alberto Salazar swam freestyle to supplement his miles; Joan Benoit swam after knee surgery before the 1984 Olympic Trials; Paula Radcliffe does cross-country skiing as a recovery workout; Deena Kastor does Pilates and plyometrics; and Meb Keflezighi does two-hour bike rides combined with running.
What's your idea of cross-training during marathon training?
Or do you just stick to running?
Come on. Share what works for you.
P.S.: The only problem I've had with swimming is that it's making my hair look like this: