Experience From - Sean Greenhill , Dex , Dana Roueche , David Elsbernd , Dana Roueche#2 , Lynn Newton , Al Howie , Kevin Kepley , Karl King , George Beinhorn , Dave Emmons , Scott Weber , Buzz Burrell , Al Howie#2 , Dave Elsbernd#2 ,
"What, if any, cross training do you, yea you, do?"Swim
Valuable electrolytes! Consume wherever possible! Rum is even better (-:
Avoiding work at all cost
Try running home from work. I do, and it's a great way to manage your exercise time.
I'm one of those low mileage, ultra slow, ultra runners. My cross training includes cycling. I have much more talent as a cyclist than a runner. I have found that if I commit my training totally to either event then my injury complaints sky rocket. But if I cross train then I hardly ever have a training injury. I try not to cycle or run two days in a row. I alternate as best I can.
Last year I cycled a little over 4000 miles and ran just a little over 1000. My longest training run/walk was 15 miles the whole year. I only did two running events all year. These were both 24 hour events in which I did 93 miles in one and bombed and did 65 miles in the other and dropped out at 14 hours. I have broke the century mark in a 24 hour event in the past on this low mileage.
Al Howie wrote:
Hi Matt, with your enquiring mind, assuming you actually enjoy running, why don't you play around with high mileage for a while and see how it goes and where it takes you? I'm not suggesting there is anything innately superior in the high mileage runner (there isn't)or his/her training method (there might be here?); just curious as to why you're so committed to such minimal miles per week of running! Regards from the other extreme!!For six years I considered myself a high mileage runner, running 100 plus miles per week preparing for races and averaging over 4,000 miles annually. Maybe not high for Al, but it's up there for most. After about four years of this, I noticed I was no longer improving, actually I peaked and started to decline. After this past season of mediocre performances that where worse than my initial performances 6 years ago, I knew it was time for a change.
I maintained my same level of training, about 20 hrs per week, but instead of just running and weight lifting, I cut my running in half and added swimming and cycling. I found that the general intensity at which I could train was far greater when cross training. I was also no longer pounding myself into the ground with endless running miles. I love to run and I found that my enjoyment for running really escalated by doing less with more quality. I also found that as much as I like running, it is training in general that I really enjoy. If you love to train, and when you can add variety, it becomes a whole different concept. If my life and strength allowed it, I would train 40 hrs per week, let alone 20-25 hrs.
I have recently had my first test under this cross training scheme at the Turquoise lake 20 mile snowshoe run in Leadville. It has about the equivalent work effort of a flat 35 mile run on dry land at lower altitude. Even though the conditions where 20 to 25 minutes slower on average for most, I improved my time and position. Last year I came in 43 amongst 85 very hard core snowshoer/ultrarunners. This year I improved to 25th place in an even stronger field.
My next real test will be the Leadville trail 100. That will give me 12 months under the new training plan and on a course where I have a lot of history. I'll have 6 prior finishes to compare my performance to.
I would propose to Al Howie and other high mileage runners, to try some cross training and see if it helps with your performance.
Matt Mahoney wrote:
In 1998 I biked 4250 miles (82/wk), walked 353 mi (7/wk) and lifted weights twice a week, in addition to running 983 miles (19/wk). That 983 miles included 638 miles of racing in 57 races, plus 345 miles of training runs...
Al, you wrote:
"Sound advice Dana. I do cross train and it is a great help. I try to work out at the gym (weights) 4 or 5 times a week and only when I'm doing this do I really feel fit and in race shape."This brings up a good point about cross-training and has to do with it's definition and application to fitness. Weight lifting or strength training is extremely important for people to do regardless of what sport they focus on and for that matter it is important for health and fitness even if you don't participate in a sport. After you reach your late 20's or early 30's you will start losing strength unless active measures are taken to prevent it. Weight training is a great way to maintain or increase general body strength. To me, resistance training is so important, I take it as a given. In sport, I see weight lifting as something that is done in ADDITION to your primary sport, in our case running. In the pure sense of the word, since it is not running, it can be considered cross-training. > There is another aspect of cross-training that can be a very powerful training technique and was what I was thinking of when I suggested high mileage runners like yourself to consider in your training plan. It is aerobic cross-training that is done INSTEAD of running. I know, it may be a shock, but there might be a more effective means of reaching optimum condition other than all running and of course some weight lifting.
Let's assume you run 150 miles per week and lift another 6 hrs for strength training. What if you cut your running to 100 miles per week, continued with 6 hrs of lifting but then added other aerobic activities for the same duration of time and intensity to replace the 50 miles of running. This would allow is a longer recovery time between runs while still enabling you to maintain your level of cardiovascular fitness. I would propose (based on my experience), that with the longer rests from running that you would be able to run the 100 miles more intensely. You would now be doing 2/3rds of your training at a more intense level than if you where doing all the same exercise, running. Since the training you are doing in place of miles 101 to 150 is not running, you will most likely find that using different muscles and mechanics will allow you to also work more intensely on that aspect of your training as well. So in other words, with the exception of the 6 hrs of strength training remaining constant, you are able to boost the intensity of all of your other training. Logically this translate into a higher fitness level if you are careful not to over train.
There is also a second very powerful benefit to cross-training above and beyond boosting intensity. When you are alternating different sports and using different muscles and mechanics, you are allowing the muscles you use for your primary sport running, to rest and recover. We know that it is during rest and recovery that your muscles are rebuilding and becoming stronger. So, on top of you working your cardiovascular system harder, you are also effectively giving your muscles more time to build to become stronger.
It is important that the cross-training sport be sufficiently different from running for this to provide optimum benefit. For example, snowshoeing is not different enough from running for you to rest your running muscles. I am learning again from my own experience that a very powerful cross-training activity to running is swimming. The leg muscles you do use are not your primary running muscles, there is no pounding or weight bearing so your running muscles can recover while you are still training very hard. A sport more similar to running but different enough to be very effective is cycling. Cycling's benefit is that it is a very powerful aerobic exercise without the impact and weight bearing Not that impact and weight bearing are necessarily bad for running training, but if it happens all the time, it just doesn't allow for muscular recovery.
On the negative side of cross-training, there is a real risk of over training With the ability to work that much harder than sticking to a single sport, it is easier to over train You no longer have the same magnitude of sore muscles limiting your training effort. For example, if you had sore quads from running that might force you to lighten up your training for the day, you could swim as intensely as ever when you might have been better off getting a little rest.
Stimulated by this comment from Dana:
...when you are alternating different sports and using different muscles and mechanics, you are allowing the muscles you use for your primary sport running, to rest and recover. We know that it is during rest and recovery that your muscles are rebuilding and becoming stronger....I'd like to know: What is the general consensus of the esteemed readers of this group on the value of leg work in strength training, the amount of it to do, and which exercises are most valuable?
I've heard many experts claim that leg work is essential for runners to include in any strength training program. But whenever I've tried it, which I do frequently on the basis of the vague notion that it's "good for me", I always find my recovery and performance are slowed considerably, and for a couple of days afterward I just barely drag my butt along when trying to run.
Dana you wrote:
"There is another aspect of cross-training that can be a very powerful training technique and was what I was thinking of when I suggested high mileage runners like yourself to consider in your training plan. It is aerobic cross-training that is done INSTEAD of running. I know, it may be a shock, but there might be a more effective means of reaching optimum condition other than all running and of course some weight lifting."Actually over the years I have played around with many cross-training ideas besides weights. Two or even three times a day I have leapt on my trusty stationary bike, grabbed a book to stimulate my mind, turned the tension on full; then peddled like hell, with the sweat flying everywhere, for half an hour. (I'm a certified extremist in everything I do!) When times and circumstances permit I have daily swum one mile breast stroke. (And I don't mean swimming at the movies --corny old joke from my 'misspent youth!) If fortune decided to beam down on me and local corporate interest, noticing that my weird propensity to run and run and run begets considerable media interest, recognized the mutual value in backing me or if a sugar mamma appeared out of the blue to cover the cost of my addiction to food and a roof over my head; in other words if I could train full time, I would sleep 8 or 9 hours every night, nap for an hour or two during the early afternoon and fill the bulk of the rest of my time with long runs, biking, swimming, rowing and weights. I would love to be able to follow this path, not because I'm an arrogant bastard who wants to strut around showing off what a great runner he is, but because I sincerely think the most useful thing I could be doing with my life, given my unusual circumstances with the adult onset of my juvenile onset diabetes and subsequent return to health and ultra-form, is to go public and help point the way for young newly diagnosed insulin dependent diabetics to follow back to health and athletic prowess. Developing type 1 diabetes is a terrifying nightmare; but it can be dealt with and the diabetic can learn and adapt to have as long, as fun filled, as rewarding life as anyone. But tell that to a sports minded kid who suddenly finds himself 25 lbs underweight, weak and sick! That's what I want to do!!!
But, as usual, I go off on tangents!! Physically, I guess, I'm an oddity!! I thrive on high mileage. The best race of my life was run on a training diet consisting solely of running. Granted that was a 10 week period of 100km days with a two week drastic taper between my arrival in Victoria from Newfoundland and the start of the SCMT 1,300 miler in New York on 16th September 1991. The result was a world record of 16 days 19 hours and change.
Generally I agree with everything you say! None of us are clones! We're all different! It doesn't make me any better, or worse, than anyone else but I guess I'm just more different than most! It's nothing to be proud of, or ashamed of, it's just the way I am. Congenital I guess!!!
Lynn Newton wrote:
"I'd like to know: What is the general consensus of the esteemed readers of this group on the value of leg work in strength training, the amount of it to do, and which exercises are most valuable?"I lift weights on a regular basis. I do a split routine, upper body one day, lower body the next. Whenever I stop lifting, after about 2-3 months, I start having problems with all sorts of minor injuries. When I start lifting again, these problems usually go away after a while without rest.
When I start lifting after a layoff, I start with just one set of light weights for each exercise. I build it up fairly gradually, but it always amazes me how quickly I build up the weight, reps, and sets.
My experience is that it always helps my running. I run better, recover better, and have fewer injuries.
"But whenever I've tried it, which I do frequently on the basis of the vague notion that it's "good for me", I always find my recovery and performance are slowed considerably, and for a couple of days afterward I just barely drag my butt along when trying to run."Lynn, this is a sign that you're doing way to much work with the weights.
I've done weights for years and have enjoyed the greater durability arising from that work. The weight work will tire your legs, so if you plan on doing a very long run or ultra, you can skip the weights for 10-14 days before so that your legs are fresh for the event.
Another point: you really don't need to work the lower body "hard" more than once a week. If you do a second workout, make it an easy one--say, half the volume of the hard one.
Although I don't use a treadmill for running, I do use a roller trainer for cycling. I live in Los Angeles so there are not many days that I can't run due to weather (none!). I did find that traffic conditions did warrant the use of a safer method of training for the bicycle. The most useful tool for using rollers is the heart rate monitor. While using rollers, it is possible to keep the target heart rate within 5 bpm because of the consistent resistance. All professional riders use rollers to improve form and I suspect the same could be said for the use of a treadmill. (FYI rollers differ from stationary bikes in that you must balance the bike just as you would when riding.) I remember hearing one story about the legendary Race Across America rider Lon Haldeman who in preparation for RAAM, locked himself in his basement and rode for 6 hours in the dark on his rollers. (to a cyclist, that is an incredible feat) I guess something similar could be done to simulate night running. I imagine a target or cross hair could be placed on a wall and various lighting methods could be tried and practiced to minimize bounce and adjust to tunnel vision. I think you will find that the treadmill is just another tool that when used effectively can benefit even the most seasoned runner.
Here's what 1997 Comrades Champion , Charl Mattheus has to say on the subject of what he does for weight-training:
Charl Mattheus: Yes, I do weight training. I use very light weights. I do leg curls, leg extensions and calf raises. Calf raises I always do at 50% of my total body weight. By the way, my fighting weight, toeing the line at Comrades, is 55 kilograms (121.25 lb..) With this 50% weight I do 3 sets of 20 repetitions. Between each set I stretch the muscle for one minute. I do the same thing with leg extensions. 50% total body weight; 3 sets of 20 repetitions with stretching of the muscle being trained between sets. When doing the extensions, I rotate my feet out 30 degrees to stress the inner muscles. It is important that there is a balance of work for me on the quads and the hamstrings. Otherwise, I will pick up various other problems.
Stretching is very important as my muscles get quite tight after these workouts. I do this training three times per week. I never do weight training on consecutive days, otherwise my muscles do not recover. I prefer to do light weights instead of heavy weights because I really do not run "fast" in ultramarathons/marathons and I don't want to build heavy muscles.
I am not sure about weight training for running.
Last winter I started going to the gym twice a week, for the first time in my life. It felt good. I'm in my late 40's, and it's clear that as one ages, fitness may be maintained, technique and toughness may actually increase, but speed and strength automatically decline.
I also ski race, where strength is critical, and bike race, where it also helps. But running is a cardiovascular sport; CV efficiency is FAR more important than strength. Large bodies are a disadvantage. And furthermore, strength definitely does not equal speed! If you want faster turnover, you need to practice running fast, not lift weights. (This comment applies to ultra running only).
So while lifting helped skiing and kayaking a lot, and biking a little, I'm not sure about running.
Recently I saw the esteemed Andy Pruitt at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. I proudly told him of my off-season gym time. He frowned. "At your age, the amount of benefit you get from weight workouts is probably offset by the amount of stress it puts on your joints. What do you like to do?"
"Run and bike" I said .
"Then run and ride your bike. Do what you like, and don't worry about it."
This is anectodal, and I certainly don't mean to speak for a doctor who undoubtable would have much more to say on this subject. But I would be cautious about overemphasizing strength training for a sport that requires less than ping pong.
I've said this before, but its always a good perspective: In reality, we do what we want, and then rationalize it later. People who like to lift weights do it, and those who don't, don't. After the fact they come up with reasons why. This is true of everything, and is actually not a bad plan.
On the other hand, the old saying "train your weaknesses and race your strengths" is genius. Too bad we don't do it. If I were to make a wild guess, I would say that 90% of the people in the last week who recommended strong weight programs probably shouldn't be doing it. They should be running more, probably doing some tempo or interval work. It's the people who don't lift that need to.
Cross training - I've always done this, and that's why I never entered a gym until recently. Virtually anything uses more strength than ultra running, so skiing, biking, skating, rowing, etc all are very helpfull, for many different reasons. Biking is particularly good for runners, because its no impact and strengthens the quads that hold the knee together (must use clips and raise your seat).
Quads/downhills - If you really want to run Hope Pass without blowing out your quads, then get out of the gym, get on some hills, learn good technique for running downhill, and then do it regularly. There is no substitute.
In summary, if you lift weights a lot, you will get good at ... lifting weights. Augmenting your training by working on your weaknesses is excellent, but keep perspective of what you want to accomplish.
Fortunately, this training advice works great for everything! Simply smiling a lot will actually make you more happy, practicing generosity will make you more generous; "As you sow, so shall you reap".
"furthermore, strength definitely does not equal speed! If you want faster turnover, you need to practice running fast, not lift weights. (This comment applies to ultra running only). So while lifting helped skiing and kayaking a lot, and biking a little, I'm not sure about running."I couldn't agree with Buzz less! Becoming stronger ( and what's better than weight training to get you there?) will make you better at any sporting activity. Why not also do some intervals if your worried about your speed. Long slow running doesn't make you fast!!
While following up on another post, I found an article on bone loss and non-weight bearing exercise on the EndurePlus site . See September 1996, "Rapid Bone Loss".
The article seems to argue for vitamin supplementation and weight-bearing exercises (i.e. weight lifting) in the off season.