Cross-training — Longer Intervals and Endurance Based Workout

Cross-training. I have a love/hate relationship with it. The thing is, I know all of the benefits: cardio without the impact, a safe way to supplement ‘miles’, staying in shape during an injury…ahhh, that last one. See, that is where the hate part comes in.

chained animals

I just feel a little chained down when cross-training...but that's not fair to hate on the machine...haha!

To be fair, it is really just mischanneled anger that gets sloughed off on cross-training…sorry, x-training. Usually whenever I’m on the elliptical, the bike, the crazy scary gauntlet-style stair climber, aqua-jogging, etc., it’s because I’m forced into it. My body is on the machine but my mind keeps drifting to where I want to be…RUNNING!

But there are plenty of other reasons to be on that machine and many of them have nothing to do with injuries. You can be logging miles but still getting a workout done on the elliptical, they can go hand and hand; it’s just that even when I’m not injured I’d still rather be running. Hehe, oh me and my little running affliction.

All that said; if you are going to use that cross-training to its full potential (as in it’s supposed to be a hard workout day, not just getting in some steady cardio) you can do it a few ways. A big one is with intervals.

Intervals can kick your butt on the track/roads and they can do the same anywhere else…don’t believe me check back midway though a session and see if you change your answer. Intervals also help beat the boredom that can come with a stationary machine; though I will warn you that those recovery minutes seem to miraculously fly by much faster than the hard one…funny how that works!

roller blader girl

Heck, you could even go rollerblading for your cross-training!

I’ve done a few cross-training interval workouts on the Workouts Tab, and here is another. This one is more strength/endurance based; you can do it on any machine, even aqua-jogging, just put in the effort. (My choice would be the elliptical but that’s just me!)

* 10-15 minute warm-up
* 5 minutes hard
— you want to be working the whole time, those middle minutes the mind can drift; to refocus and keep yourself honest I usually peek at the RPM’s of the machine and see how I’m doing, if it starts lagging I try and pick it back up. Get competitive with yourself and see how high you can get them and sustain it there.
* 2 minutes recovery – just keep moving, allow yourself to recover
* 5 mintues hard
* 2 minutes recovery
* 5 minutes hard
* 2 minutes recovery
* 5 minutes hard
— last long, hard one, so push through!
* 2 minutes recovery
* 2 minutes hard
— this one is shorter so try and get moving a little faster; though it’s at the end and you’re tired…but just remember you’re ALMOST done!
* cool-down

***** if you are training for a long event you can make this one a little more endurance-based with this: instead of the standard 15 minute warm-up you will make yours 45 minutes but break it up into 3×15 minute chunks. The first 15 minutes will just be your easy warm-up, the next 15 minutes pick it up each 5 minutes until you’re going harder than ‘easy’ and just below a ‘moderate’ level, for the last 15 minutes keep picking it up each 5 minutes until the last bit of time you are going at about a threshold pace. From here, take 3-5 minutes to regroup and then go into the interval workout.

That’s it for now, folks! I hope your week is going along well and remember that cross-training is your friend. Even though it may drudge up ghosts of injuries past, it’s not fair that we dump all that hate on it…that said, it’s still okay to begrudge it just a little…I mean running is still the best. :)

1) Do you prefer cross-training to music or watching TV?
I’d say for just steady cardio probably TV, but music if I’m doing a harder workout.

2) What’s your cross-training of choice?

3) How do you supplement or use cross-training in your workout line-up?

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Coming Back After a Running Hiatus…Aint it a Kick in the Tush!!

I hope everyone is enjoying their long weekends if you’re living in the States! It’s that time of the year again, even though World Track Champs is bleeding over into the start of it, for most teams out there it’s cross-country season. Now, cross-country season comes at another funky time if said person is still is in school; it’s right after summer break and classes are also starting up.

Now, for lots of high school kids, and I’m sure yes even some college level athletes, summer vacation may or may not include sticking to that training schedule. Now, I’m anal and was always getting in my runs and whatever I was supposed to do regardless (you’re talking to the girl who got into a fight with her mom because of the timing of that looooong, drawn out high school graduation ceremony conflicting with a track meet…I mean, I knew I graduated, did I need to sit for four plus hours sweating bullets in that robe?!) but others not so much.

senior portrait

Ack..hs senior portraits...Mom wasn't too stoked on obvious watch and running shirt tan lines. :P

You can tell off the bat who did their summer running and who didn’t. In fact, I think it was Alberto Salazar that was quoted with something along the lines of, “I like to be in the best possible shape at the onset of the season so I can put the people who didn’t train through the worst possible torture that I can.”

Whether it’s due to actual quasi-malicious intent by your teammates or not, I would suspect that slacking in the off-season bring its own swift justice come practice time. I was joking with a high school coach as they were off to their first team practice, and he was mentioning how it should be interesting to see who did what they were supposed to over the summer.

There are those people that do snap into shape relatively fast, and thanks to good old muscle memory if you’ve been at this thing long enough, after a few horrible few weeks it is surprising how fast you’ll improve and be back to your ‘old self.’ Still, it’s never fun, or pretty, coming back to running after a break.

This goes whether it’s just a slacking-induced break or one that is planned (you DO need to take breaks periodically and especially after tough seasons) or even ones that come from an injury. During said injury you can be a master at the cross-training but it’s always a cold slap of reality when you return to actual running no matter what you did.

kick in the face

Those first few runs back...a kick to the face! When a 'short' four miler never felt sooooooo long!

That last one, coming back from an injury and starting to run again, can be rather defeating if you start to compare yourself to the ‘old you’ times and where you are now. Running is so mental that if you slip into that comparison trap too far you can take yourself out of the game, or the season, altogether. Heck, sometimes even the sport. So it’s not pretty…don’t go down that road.

Better to focus on the here and now and the workout set immediately before you. Put in the effort, in fact that’s paramount regardless of times, so many other factors can affect actual paces and times, but even if the pace is ‘off,’ if you are putting in the same amount of effort you are getting a benefit. (Side tangent here- so remember that sometimes when a workout is just going to pieces timewise, sometimes it’s just better to chuck the watch and put in the same amount of effort…your body is still working hard and cardio-wise you’re still reaping those benefits.)

Staying present in the season or where you are fitness-wise is best if you’re coming off a running hiatus. Start with a semi-blank slate and track your progress post-injury when it comes to workouts…then take the improvements you see there are big steps forward. Trust me, it will feel like he** sometimes getting back, but eventually if you keep at it and do everything right you’ll get back to the ‘old you’ and then some.

runner throws up after race

Racing into shape is never pretty. Don't bother a racer if they dash past the chute and head straight for the bushes!

So to all those starting cross-season, you might have had a race this weekend…where you one of the people inflicting torture on the other people who maybe skipped out on those morning runs, or were you one of the people paying the price?

1) If you competed in sports, did you always put in the work during the off-season?

See, this is one thing where my OCD can work to my favor if kept in check…if a coach tells me to do something you can bet I’ll do it, I get in trouble if I then do too much. Though, I think for ‘normal’ people it’s more of a progression, the more serious you get about a sport the more likely you are to want to train even when you’re not under supervision. You get to the point where you’re self-motivated to achieve certain goals you set for yourself.

2) If it’s an injury that kept you from running, isn’t it a bi*** coming back?! No, but really, I think it’s about a two week period of extra pain until you start to come back. What was the last major injury that kept you out and did you do any cross-training during that time? If so, what did you do?

I’m a big fan of the elliptical!

3) How are you living it up this weekend?

PS-this is another side tangent that NEEDS to be addressed…I have noticed that recently as things have been switching around techie-wise, I’ve gotten a TON of spam comments!! To the actual readers I’m very sorry and does anyone have any tips on how to block this?! I seriously spent over an hour just today deleting this junk…ugh! :(

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Runner Buddies Unite! We’ll kick the butt of stupid injuries and make the world a better place ;)

As per usual the day started off with this: debate about rolling over again and spending more time with my pillow (Since I’d already done that a few times I knew it was time to peel myself out of bed…lazy bones!!), swing myself over to the laptop, loaded up the emails, and then go my blog crawl on.

One of the fist posts I came across was over at The Hungry Runner Girl and Janae was talking about her current running situation…or more that because she’s coming back from another injury the lack of actual running. Trust me, the girl is still training like a champ it’s just of the cross-training variety.

But the thing is, and I myself can fully relate, as runners, even if we’re logging hours on the elliptical, bike, pool, weight room, whatever, we still feel like slackers. Heck, we could be a drippy sweaty mess and so obviously putting the work and effort in, but it just doesn’t ‘feel’ the same. It’s then really easy to get down on ourselves and sucked into that whole ‘I’ll never get back to it’ black hole.

(Injuries flipping SUCK!)

But Janae was doing the smart thing: she had her vent session (totally warranted and I think we ALL deserve those now and again, because the thing is, sometimes in life things just plain suck!!) but then she looked at things from a rational perspective and got proactive.

I tell people to have a window of letting yourself sort of ‘wallow’ in whatever the suckiness is in your life, get it all out there, but then stop. You have to purge those feelings because you can’t ignore them, but then you HAVE to cut it off because if you don’t shut that window you’ll never pull yourself out of the depressive cycle. From there you need to be as positive as possible, even to the almost-it’s-getting-annoying point.

(I hope you enjoy the little toon I have, maybe it can put a smile on your face, but feel free to pin it up and throw darts at it when the last thing you wanna see is a rainbowy unicorn trying to force you into staying positive! hehe)

I try to be a positive person about as much as I can, but trust me that’s not always easy and I’d be lying if I said it’s ALWAYS completely genuine. The thing is, I have to make myself think positive…fake it til you make it…and in this instance it’s okay to lie to yourself. Don’t worry, I won’t tell.

Going through injuries, and just bad times in life, is really tough but if you don’t try to look for the light you might not make it through. And if you do, when you come out the other end you might look like a rat that crawled through the sewers. I use humor, I make jokes about anything and everything, I still like calling myself a gimp and am thinking of having a shirt made up that reads: Kankles 4 Life!

Getting hit by the car aside, I’ve had other obstacles in my life (usually self-imposed) and shiznit, we ALL do, but as dark as it seems at that time the world goes on. The sun will always rise in the morning…not saying you won’t want to curse that sun, but it will come up regardless.

Back to my Hungry Runner Girl friend, before I continue to veer off course like mad, runners get injured. Our sport is one of the most demanding on the old bones and bod, unfortunately injuries can come up out of nowhere, they can come at the worst possible time, and they can come at you wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am-right-after-the-other. Spending weeks, months, seasons on a cross-training machine can feel like he!! and it can demoralize even the strongest of folks. Honestly, I think coming back and battling through those things are what can really make you mentally stronger AND make you all that more hungry when you finally get back.

When you have running ripped away from you, you start to appreciate it more when you do finally get it back. And you will…trust me, it might feel like forever but you will get back.

But then when you are able to run and haven’t had an injury for awhile (lordy you never want to admit that though because you feel like you’re only tempting fate!!!) you can sort of forget that and start to take those miles for granted again. So, when I read Janae’s post it was a little reminder to me too, that I still need to remember how grateful I am for being able to run. (PS-that was only after I of course was sad for my at the moment injured runner friend, and I KNOW she’ll get back to tearing it up very soon!! Hang in there, girl!)

Not that I forgot that, but just that you know how everyday life is, when you have something around all the time it’s easy to just sort of expect it to be there tomorrow. Yet a little refresher is sometimes needed and so today on my run I was really present…I really enjoyed it…and I remembered how much I worked my butt off to get back to being able to do it.

So, I hope all you out there had a great workout today, regardless of if it was a run or if you busted your bum cross-training. And TRUST me, if you are injured or cross-training, that by NO MEANS robs you of your runner status…and it also does not make you a slacker, you can seriously kick your own butt in plenty of non-running ways. :P


I still wanna see those nasty-@$ running shots I KNOW you people have out there…hehe. :) Please, don’t be shy and send some to me so I can do this fun little montage thang! ;)


1) What is your favorite cross-training method of choice?

I’m all about the elliptical. I’m like a cat and hate the water and my butt goes numb on the bike after about T-minus 30 seconds.

2) How do you stay motivated through an injury if the time seems to stretch on for ages?

I’ve done things like making picture collages that I’d put on the front of my elliptical to look at and playlists that keep things fun, but there are always times when you wake up and want to burn that elliptical or bike to the ground…just kidding. No, but the best trick for me is to take it day by day, workout by workout, and not even think about tomorrow or how much ‘longer you’re in for’ because then it does seem like it might just stretch on forever. Focus on that single workout and do the same thing tomorrow than the days have a way of slipping by.

3) What’s the first thing you do when you wake-up?

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The Everest Mile and Track/Cross-Training Intervals II

I remember the day when I first ran an entire mile. An. Entire. Mile. I thought I was the shiznit, the boomdiggity. I mapped out a plan for myself, I thought that if I ran a mile every single day I could be one of the fastest people in the world. I remembered learning in grammar school math 101 that one mile was 5,280 feet, so what did i do? I busted out a ruler and set to measuring a circuit I could run inside my house. (I guess I couldn’t just find a tape measurer?) I figured out that if I ran around the dining room table and then looped around the perimeter of the living room it would only take me something like a billions laps to a mile. I told myself I should just do that every single night and soon I’d be setting world records.

Clearly I was idiotic, living inside a little fantasy world bubble, and going to be really dizzy. This little confession is made all the worse because it’s not like I hadn’t grown up seeing my parents run. How did it not dawn on me that every day my mom was gone for an hour plus, did I think she was running only one mile and then shooting the sh** the rest of the time?

The only point of my little moronic previous past story is that everything is relative. Then I though a whole mile was a great feat of strength (bust out the Festivus pole!) and now flash-forward and there are days I feel lazy for only putting in an hour and doing 8 miles. Funny how that works.

But it’s really easy to get sucked in. Running, and other things too, has a kind of snowball effect. One day you’re one cloud nine for finished a 5k the next you’d count that as a warm-up. One day you’re watching Two and a Half Men, the next you’re running around half naked dodging Sheen sh**. The snowball effect.

Personally, Im one speed Chock and like me the longer stuff. That slow build of pain is much better than the full on bodyslam of lactic acid straight from the get-go in my book. Well, that and probably in my entire body I’ve got about one fast twitch muscle fiber total.

Still, it’s always good to get back to your roots and not lose touch with those shorter distances. Even if you’re a marathon runner it’s good to toss yourself into a shorter 5k or *gasp* even a mile every now and again. The same goes with training, and I’m as guilty as anyone for avoiding short speed stuff like it’s the devil. But often times it’s what we hate the most that is the best for us, right?! hehe.

Anyways, this workout has the best of both worlds if you please. Awhile ago I did a post on how boring cross-training can get and talked about a pyramid interval workout. Here’s another one and I’ll map it out both to be done as a running workout on on the elliptical/bike/swim/your choice of cross-training here.

Running Style- 800/300′s

*Start with a warm-up

*800 meters hard (This is a half-mile for anyone who has yet to figure out that whole metric thing; two lappers for the track school flunkies.)

*400 meter recovery (take a slow lap to regroup)

*300 meter sprint (3/4 of the track people. I’m sure you know this but just to be extra sure…lol) *400 meter recovery jog

*Repeat. Do a total of 4-7 sets. 4 if you’re on the shorter race end of the spectrum and 7 if you’re planning on going longer. The 800′s should be at or a little faster than your 5k race pace but you want those 300′s to be as fast as you can get them. Working on your base speed will make those 800′s feel comparatively much ‘easier’ or ‘slower.’

*Finish with a good cool-down and

NOTE: if you don’t have access to a track, you can do them on a treadmill (Though those 300′s might put that baby thorough a decent pounding! A 300 would be 0.18 miles if you go that route. But you can also take it to the streets and if you know about your pace just go for time.)

Cross-training version- 3 minutes/1 minute

*Warm-up 10-15 minutes easy

*3 minutes hard interval- try and ramp-up the resistance a notch or two as well and work on getting that heart rate up; you want it to be hard but controlled, feeling like an 800 meter effort
*2 minutes easy pedaling- lower the resistance a couple notches and keep moving but allow yourself to recover

*1 minute power interval- ramp the resistance back up and really motor that minute; should feel like a sprint

*2 minutes easy pedaling

*Repeat 4-7 times. Finish with a cool-down.

That’s all she wrote for today folks! But think back to when you thought one whole mile was the equivalent to climbing Mount Everest and look to where you are today. It’s usually pretty funny. I remember the day I came home from my mile effort (at that point I’d taken my mile outside and did a loop around the block, I meant laps in the house, what was I thinking?!) and was talking to my mom. She asked me how far I went, I told her and then I asked her how far she had run that morning. Her answer was a nice slap or reality. That and later on that summer the Oly Trials were in Sacto, CA and being that I lived there I was able to beg my way to a seat for one of the days. It was inspiring and helped put that whole mile=a marathon thing in perspective….hehe. Hey, at least I wasn’t as bad as the dude sitting next to me, he turned and asked, “So one lap around this track thing, that’s like a mile right?”

1) Do you remember the first time you were able to run a full mile and thought you were the boomdiggity?

2) How long until the snowball effect took you over and what do you think a ‘shorter’ run is for you today?

3) Favorite running, workout, or pump-up song?

Has been and will forever be The Distance by Cake.

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Random Seinfeld Conspiracy and Cross-training Workouts

So I kept seeing this commercial and something about it has been bugging me. This has been going on for days! You know that feeling when you recognize someone but you don’t know exactly from where? Well, this also happens to me when I recognize an actor on TV, not the big name actors though. I’m talking about the ones who have the one time appearances on a show, they sort of drift around in the background of the usual sitcoms like the leftovers passed from one table to the next.

I have this funny little game that I play. I’m obsessed with both Seinfeld and Disney Channel shows. Well, I swear there is an odd connection between the two because lots of Seinfeld characters have made the D-Channel circuit. Who? Well I’ll name a few of my favorite sightings. Larry David himself (my favorite LD character on Seinfeld was of course the man in the cape) made an appearance in a Hannah Montana episode where he was a father trying to get a table at an exclusive restaurant. He gets bumped by HM. Estelle Costanza’s been in a few different D-Channel shows but was an irate old lady on Sonny With a Chance. J Peterman showed up on Wizards of Waverly Place to play Captain Jim Bob Sherwood. There’s others but I’m getting way off on a tangent here.

Well the same thing of obscure recollection was bugging me about this random commercial I kept on TV. It’s with a family sitting in front of the TV wondering what to eat and then this awkward looking lady walks in from their kitchen touting the words of some new frozen food thing. I seriously spent forever looking for the dang commercial online and of course now that I’m obsessed with it it’s not on TV. I think it was for some kind of stuffed popper bun, but the woman selling the product, THIS lady was the one I swore I had seen in something else but I couldn’t quite place where. It was driving me crazy…ya, I’m the kind of person where stupid things like this will seriously bug me.

Last night it came to me! I thought I must have seen her in some other kind of commercial or cameo but no…I SWEAR I used to see this lady in my old gym!! Now, like you I thought there was no way it was the same lady, ya it’s not like it’s a huge role or anything and it was probably filmed somewhere else. But, she’s got a pretty distinct face and way about her. I’m convinced it’s the same lady; she was really nice by the way. Those popper things look gross, but power to her!!

Speaking of gyms, in perusing blogs and such, the whole cross training issue came up. Running of course is my top pick of exercise/cardio but let’s face it, it’s really hard on the body. Inevitably we ALL wind up with stupid injuries that force us to resort to some kind of cross-training. The usual round-up are the bike, elliptical, and swimming. I’ll tell you, after my whole car accident and spending what felt like an ETERNITY on the elliptical, it got to the point where looking at the d*** thing almost made me physically ill. When I finally got to move up to the treadmill I almost wanted to burn that elliptical! Juuuust kidding.

But in reality that elliptical is awesome. If I had to pick my favorite cross-training activity it would be that…it feels the most like running to me. Though, not gonna lie, it does get boring. So to help pass the time, and also get the most out of the workout, intervals are perfect. Here’s a pyramid style interval workout; the harder effort times vary which is good because it works both your endurance but also strength/power because on the shorter bouts you really want to push it and go nearly all out for that interval. Tell yourself that ya, it hurts but it’s almost over! ;)

**Start with a warm-up of 5-10 minutes

* 1 minute- Hard effort; try to get your RPM’s really up there, think sprinting

* 1 minute- Easy recovery

* 2 minutes- Hard effort

* 2 minutes- Easy recovery

* 3 minutes- Hard effort

* 3 minutes- Easy recovery

* 2 minutes- Hard effort

* 2 minutes- Easy recovery

* 1 minute- Hard effort

* 1 minute- Easy recovery

* 2 minutes- Hard effort

* 2 minutes- Easy recovery

* 3 minutes- Hard effort

* 3 minutes- Easy recovery

* 1 minute- Hard effort

**Finish with a cool-down

Okay, so the hard portion of the workout comes out to be a total of 29 minutes. Obviously you’ll be going ‘faster’ for the shorter intervals just like you would running a 300/400 meter repeats on the track versus the longer interval times. Think of those like a 600/800 meter repeat. Take the easy minutes as just that…easy and allow yourself to regroup and recover. Because tension levels and inclines vary between machines I can’t give an exact guideline there but on the one I use I tend to put the incline at around 6-7 and the tension there too. What I also do is for the harder portions I’ll set the tension higher, 7, and scale it down to 5-6 for the recovery minutes. For me I like to feel like my turnover is similar to that of running and getting that faster rather than upping the tension to a level where my turnover just feels to slow…if that makes any sense.

You don’t have to do this on the elliptical, you can do the same layout on any kind of machine or even if you’re aqua-jogging in the pool. Just go harder in there like you’re trying to run faster. The goal is just to get that heart rate up! That said, cross-training isn’t only for when you’re injured but a great supplement to your running. So now that I’m able to run again I’m happy I didn’t burn the elliptical. ;)

Side note, that cartoon up top with the man on the elliptical was another one from the Gym Offenders Caught series. He’s the guy plugged into his iPod and belting out the lyrics like nobody’s business. I’m all for listening to music to get you pumped but do you need to sing so loud we all have to listen to your music selection?

Today for me I did an easy 8 and change. Pedestal core routine and abs. I’m thinking that’s it for now, but I hope you all are having a great Tuesday!

1) Favorite Seinfeld character? If you don’t like the show then we’ll have to send the Soup Nazi out after you. Just kidding. :)

2) Have you ever met an actor or actress? They can be quasi-famous too, or not even all that famous. I’m adding my gym lady poppers peddler to my list! hehe.

3) What’s your favorite crosstraining activity?

Mine’s the elliptical, but it looks like some people have resorted to just switching shoes. ;)

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