Cross-Training as an Endurance Runner

by Jennilyn Eaton

I often get asked if I cross-train. “Do you bike or anything?”

Bike? Hmmm. As a distance runner, don’t I spend enough time doing cardio? In fact, ultra distance runners run to distances that degenerate our muscles. After some research and personal experimentation, I committed to strength train 2-3 times a week when I started running more in 2009.

I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite sport. I don’t fit in at the gym, I can’t lift heavy, I often sneak in a quick gym session mid-work day (in jelly shoes and a pretty dress) or after a long day on the trail with my legs full of scratches and mud. Yet after years of training, I’ve come to respect the sport, for how it gives me strength to power up hills, a back that can carry a heavier pack for 100+ miles, and minimal to non-existent injuries.

The most difficult part of strength training for me is getting it in. I run 50-80 miles per week. I over more than full-time and am a single mom, and I still try to pretend I have a social life. Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up over the years on getting the workouts in:

·      Pair it with your workday. Many workplaces either have a gym or access to one, mine included. Wear a sports bra and athletic shorts under your business clothes (a reason I love dresses) to limit changing time if needed. Most of my weight training sessions are on my lunch break.

·      Sneak it in before work – be it downstairs in your own home where you won’t wake anyone or hitting a gym en route to work.

·      Involve the kids – Bring them with you. My boys love to run a mile or two on the treadmill while I lift and then they do some of the exercises with me. Not only does it teach them healthy habits, but I get my workout in, too.

Generally speaking, if I make it to the gym, I get the workout in. I’ll try to schedule that time the day before, and pack my post-workout snack, so I know it happens.