A cross training problem…

If you’re anything like me one of the more enjoyable parts of training is filling out your daily running (or exercise) journal.

I love getting fancy with my Excel spreadsheet, highlighting each form of exercise in different colours, listing whether the run was road or trail, logging speed work, hill reps and weekly mileage totals.

Or maybe you prefer doing things old-skool – going on a spending spree at Officeworks buying up nice notebooks and every different colour of gel pen you can get your hands on then plotting it all out on paper?

Either way, one of the benefits of being so anal retentive with the colouring pencils/data filters is that you should be able to see at a glance whether you’ve had a balanced week of workouts. Is your schedule nice and colourful? Because if not, you’re not doing enough cross-training!

Recently I have been trying my utmost to get more cross training in. I know that when I swim my recovery from hill workouts is better than if I’d spent hours on the foam roller, so I should make the effort to do it, but that aqua highlight has been absent from my schedule for the past 10 days or so.

A trail run on the weekend is the only thing stopping this past week from being all purple (the colour I use for a road run).

Most people would say I have a fair amount of discipline running as much as I do, but I don’t see it that way. Running is a habit and something I enjoy, so the willpower involved in doing it is nowhere near as much as would be needed were I to try, for example, to give up chocolate.

I will not bother to entertain the possibility of a me without sweet treats because that would just be stupid, instead I’m simply trying to add swimming and riding to my repertoire on a much more regular basis than I have been doing.

I want to see a rainbow when I look at my exercise journal!

rainbow schedule

An example of what a good week looks like. This is from last year and I would like to see it repeated more often.

In the past my main problem with swimming and riding was time. Both forms of exercise take up considerably more of it than running.

Then there’s the results of said training. Doing 20 minutes of interval running is a great workout and well worth the minimal time investment.

But 20 minutes swimming or cycling is – as far as I’m concerned – insignificant in terms of increasing my aerobic abilities.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re just starting out at either swimming or cycling, the only way you’ll ever get good is by building up slowly, and 20 minutes at a time is a great place to start. But I’ve been a water baby since I was born. I’ve been swimming since I was 18 months old. It is not difficult for me. In fact, it is the easiest form of exercise out of the lot. I really have to push hard to get 60 minutes of swimming to equal even 30 minutes of running in terms of exertion comparison.

And I’m not too bad at cycling either, although my speed isn’t where it could be.

So my major issue was that this new habit was taking me away from my family at night AND wasn’t as efficient in terms of increasing fitness as running. No wonder I was finding it hard to muster up the willpower to do it!

As usual in life, whether you’re struggling to complete that last hill rep, or trying not to strangle that guy at work who always disagrees with you in staff meetings, the way you react to things is not neccessarily the correct way to deal.

It’s all in the way you look at your problem.

I knew I wanted to do more cross training, so I had to find a way to make it easier for me to get into the habit, instead of constantly fighting with myself every time a swim workout popped up on the calendar.

It wasn’t that cross training was too hard. After all, lots of people do it. Therefore I figured I must be missing something else.

For me, that something was organization.

First of all I looked long and hard at my week to find some spare time.

I didn’t think I had any.

But I found that on Tuesday and Thursday evenings hubby and daughter were actually out of the house till almost 7pm doing various activities.

Problem number one was solved immediately – the family couldn’t exactly miss me being home with them if they weren’t even there in the first place.

Then I realised that if I reworked the timing of my runs I would have enough oomph left in my legs on a Friday to ride to and from work.

Next I packed my swimming bag and got that ready and left it in the boot of my car. Money, water bottle, change of clothes. It’s all ready to go, so no need to think on a Tuesday morning before heading out.

Same with the bike, we’ve bought a new pulley system for the laundry so the bikes are much easier to get at.

9_1No more struggling out into the back yard, past the wood pile shed to the other shed, then dragging the bike out backwards through overgrown grass because there was no room to turn it around. Just getting the bike out was my weight training for the day I tell you!

So I’m all organized.

Lastly, I’ve brought in the big guns: bribery.

As soon as I do 8 swim workouts in one month I get to buy myself some non-dorky Speedos

22M20_4504_1-1-Ipanema-Trickback-300x300And if I ride to and from work every Friday for a month I am treating myself to a new winter running jacket

brooks jacket

that I don’t really need – but hey, it’s not a treat if you actually need it, right? Or maybe I’ll finally splash out and buy something from Ink n Burn


Then of course there’s all the extra food I can eat when I get 3 days worth of double workouts in over a week.

Not all these things are going to get me into a chilly pool after a long day at work that was preceded by a 5:30am hill rep workout. And probably nothing is going to get me out the door on the bike when it’s raining cats and dogs, but every little bit helps right?

I’ll report back next week and see how we go…

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