Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cross Training Adventures

I am entering week five of cross training, and hopefully I will be able to start running again next week. I am recovering from my second stress fracture in about a year. This one is also in my second metatarsal, but in the other foot. Last time, I spent a lot of time in the gym, which is incredibly boring in my opinion. This time around, I wanted to get outside and cross train. It's been an adventure to say the least. My training has been mostly biking, walking, yoga, core and gardening. I am going to try out an EllipitGo soon, which I am really excited about. I think the elliptical is really the best form of cross training for running . I'm sure it will be awesome to be able to get outside on the EllipitGo. I'll report back after my first ride.

I was ok with cross training at the gym on the first day because it was snowing outside. I got on the spin bike and started pedaling as fast as I could, which lasted approximately 55 seconds, until I decided that the seat needed to be readjusted. After the seat was set to the correct height, I started pedaling again with my heel to protect my injury and promptly lost my footing and fell off the spin bike. I was slightly embarrassed, but otherwise fine. Having made it through the next 59 minutes without incident, clearly I was ready for a new challenge. Mountain biking.

Day one of mountain biking started out on a chilly morning. I set out with my husband who has a lot more experience on the bike than me. I did a little bit of mountain biking last year when I was hurt, but nothing very technical. The trails by our house are quite a bit more technical than what I did last year, but I was up for the challenge. We rode up the most forgiving route on single track then up a dirt road to the top of Cheyenne Canyon. I kept up with Scott fairly well, but I had to walk a couple of times on the technical parts of the single track. No big deal.

Getin' rad on the mountain bike. Our attempt at selfies. I think we are naturals .

Then we started back down the hill. 57 degrees is freezing going downhill on the bike. By the time we got down the road, teeth chattering, we decided to go the direct shorter (steeper) single track route home because it was so cold.

To say that I am bad at riding single track downhill on the bike would be an understatement. I think I used half of the life of my brakes in that one mile stretch. Another woman came flying past me. While walking her two poodles. There was one point where I was full on white knuckled squeezing the breaks, but still moving forward. How is that even possible? The trail was steep and full of loose gravel, so I was sliding down the hill at a terrifying crawl, pretty sure that I was going to go over the handle bars. Concerned that this was sacrilegious to the trail, sort of the equivalent to shaving moguls in skiing, I got off and walked the remainder.

My mountain biking coach

When we got home I commented on how awful I was at the downhill. My incredibly patient husband said that I was probably just worried about hurting my foot so I held back. It was then that I realized, if one is a runner/novice biker who would like to completely forget about the stress fracture in you foot for a bit, ride down the Chutes on a mountain bike.

Helen Hunt Falls halfway up the canyon
I've gotten a lot better since then on the trails and also ride on the roads quite a bit. I've become a tourist in my neighborhood and pretty much ride up any big hill I can find (no shortage here), which usually ends with the paved side of Cheyenne Canyon. It's 5k from the base to the top with 1250 feet of climbing. It's a pretty good workout.

The Artist's house along my road ride
I usually do yoga or take my dog for a walk in the evenings. I've also added in more core work. My core has always been pretty weak and now is a great time to focus on adding strength. Jay Johnson has posted some great videos of core workouts on his website www.coachjayjohnson.com.

The best guide for me through this injury and cross training has been pain. My doctor wants me to cross train and stay active because he believes this will help the bone heal faster. I agree, especially based on my experiences from last year. However, if an activity causes pain then I have to stop and do something else. It's hard at times to be honest with myself about whether or not I feel pain. As a runner I have taught myself to push through pain and even crave that challenge of pushing through
pain. For now, I am focused on recovery and still tapping into that challenge in cross training.

Running will always be my first choice of exercise. But after two stress fractures in one year, I've realized I am going to have to change things up a bit and add in more cross training and running breaks. I'm excited about adding in these of forms of exercise (biking, EllipitiGo) and interested to see how I respond to this new form of training. Barring another running injury, I plan to do some fall road races so that will be the first test. Since I am now a blogger, I'll keep you posted.

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