How I Discovered the Wonders of Cross-Training

Running experts are quick to point out the benefits of cross training. However, like much of the advice running experts give, I completely ignored it. But just this last week I discovered what I had been missing.

Throughout my running life, I rarely cross trained. Occasionally, when the weather was terrible and the treadmill was broken, or when I was injured, I’d hop onto an elliptical trainer. Also, when I biked as a mode of transportation (I did it once a week for a while, when the weather was nice), I’d be too tired to go for a run that day and declare that I had done cross-training instead.

That was all before I discovered swimming.

My knees have both been achy for a while, and I’m coming off a spate of other injuries as well. I went for a swim about a week ago, just for fun, and really enjoyed it. So I decided to go back, which I did last night (and tonight- I’m really hooked).

But last night, when I returned from swimming, the most incredible thing happened. I walked down the stairs. No, that’s not the incredible part yet. What’s amazing is that my knees didn’t hurt a bit.

My whole body was relaxed; none of my typical running aches were aching. It felt wonderful.

The experts can give you a whole gamut of reasons for why cross training is so good: it helps break up your monotonous running routine, employs different muscles, lets overused muscles rest, and so on. They also tell you the numerous ways you can do it: biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, etc.

But now I have a new appreciation for cross-training, swimming in particular, that no running expert could do justice to. It helps me walk down stairs. Pain-free.

Now that’s something.