Embracing Cross-Training, or Trying To...

So I spent a lot of time last night reading over marathon plans in the Lore of Running and considering how they stacked up with the one I've just started - the Veterans' plan from Runners World, which appears (kind of, missing a lot of key info) here. And along the way, I've been consistently returning to the FIRST plan, which is here.

These thoughts are in my mind for the following reasons:

1) Without getting on the trails last week, my legs were pretty sore.
2) I keep thinking of my triathlon training. It never made me a better cyclist, but I do believe the cycling made me a better runner.
3) All marathon plans have key runs and recovery runs. In a plan like the FIRST plan, cross-training replaces recovery runs. Some runners - myself included - call these miles "junk miles." They're not really junk, mind you - consistent aerobic work helps the aerobic base. However, if you can boost your HR to the same level and for the same duration in a non-weight bearing sport, it stands to reason that you'd stay fresher.

All of that being said, I am a mileage geek. I'm proud that my monthly mileage has gone consistently up, but is that a good reason to not cross-train? Not really. It's caring more about training mileage than training results.

So, as we move into week 2 of the marathon training, some other minor variations. The Runners World plan had 1 day of cross training, 1 day of recovery miles and 1 day of choice. FIRST has 3 days of cross training. I'm going to stay flexible on this but permit myself up to 3 days of cross training, depending on how I feel, the weather etc. For instance, next week when I'm at the beach, I won't have my bike. Unless I'm up for 45 minutes of lap swimming (unlikely), that week could be all running. For that reason, this week I'm planning on all cross training.

I'm also going to try and move my pacing to the FIRST schedule, which is a little more challenging than the RW plan, but not much more so.

On either plan, today was cross-training day. 12.64 miles in 45:38 over lunch. 16.6 mph. Bad for a cyclist. Not bad for a runner.


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