Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cross-training for motivation

Cross-training is good for the body, but, for me, it's good for the brain, too.

Cross-training helps me motivate myself to finish my workouts because each sport has something to offer the others. I struggle with different mental obstacles in each sport, and I find power to overcome those obstacles by focusing on how easy those obstacles are in the other sports. Confused? Let me explain.

Take swimming, for example.


With swimming, I struggle with remaining distance. I can swim for ages, and as I've discussed before, I don't find it boring or tedious, but often when I hit my half-way point I become overwhelmed with the thought of how far I have left to go. Swimming doesn't have the landmarks that running and biking have--it doesn't have hills to crest, turns to make, or sights to pass. Because of this lack of reference points, it's hard for me to comprehend the distance in the same way I can in other sports.

How do I get past it? I remember my half-way point in my regular runs. I know that when I hit a mile and a half in my tempo run, I'm just cresting the hill at McLendon and Candler Park, and then I have a short hill to run down before turning onto Oakdale. I can visualize it, and I know that after I pass that point, it feels like I'm almost done. It's almost literally all downhill from there!

Thinking about how easy the last half of my run is gives the mental ability to finish my swim.

Now, let's talk about running.

With running, I struggle with hills. I read a lot of running blogs where the authors talk about how flat it is in their area and how they have to make a point to train on hills before they go to races in other areas--not true for me! My neighborhood in Atlanta is hills hills hills. Most of them are okay, but some are definitely daunting! Just looking at them from the bottom stresses me out.

How do I get up them? I think about going up those hills on my bike. Now, I'm not the best biker, but the hills are definitely easier biking than running! If I put my bike in my easiest gear (smallest cog in the front, largest cog in the back), I can get over the hills without problem. I'm going super-slow, but I'm still going! That's what I think about when I'm running--I think about just going. One foot in front of the other. Left, right, left, right, left, right, and I'm up! I remember that I don't have to go fast to get up the hill; I just have to keep moving.

Thinking about how easy it is to crest hills on my bike makes it easier for me to crest them running.

Lastly, there's biking.


My issue with biking is lack of power. My hamstrings and booty are pretty darn strong, but my quads leave a lot to be desired! Sometimes mid-ride I start to get stressed out about how weak my legs are and how hard it is to push faster and harder.

How do I push harder? I remember how powerful I feel when I'm swimming. I wish I could explain in words how powerful swimming makes me feel! I think it's because there's no gear involved--it's just me propelling myself without assistance. Also, I can feel all of my muscles move and push, which is awesome. Remembering how strong I am in the pool reminds me how strong I can be on my bike, too. I may not be as strong as I want to be, but I'm still pretty darn strong!

So, thinking about how powerful I am in the pool powers me through my ride.

Do other sports help you in your mental training? I'd love to know what keeps you going!


  1. i don't really do as much cross training as i probably should. really i just love to run. every once in a while, i'll hop on the elliptical or the stationary bike, take a spin class or go to kickboxing, but the one thing i never find boring is running.

    how do you schedule your cardio sessions? do you do one more than the other?

    ps - i made your peanut butter oat protein cookies and i CANNOT stop eating them! i've devoured four just today!! (:

  2. I don't think there's anything wrong with loving one sport more than another! I definitely love running best, too. :-) I have to work up my strength in the other sports, though, for my triathalon in August.

    Being in school now, I schedule my cardio whenever it will fit! I do short runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I always do those first thing in the morning. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are cross-training days. If I'm swimming, I go first thing in the morning because the pool is more free. If I'm biking, I wait until the evening when Jeff is done with work because he likes to come, too. Sunday is my long run day for marathon training, and I do it usually in the morning.

    I'm so glad you like the cookies! I LIVE for those things!