The problem with cross training

sport-spray-for-shoesRemember when cross trainers came out in the 80s?  A little bit running shoe, a little bit tennis shoe, with a sprinkling of basketball thrown in?  If you wear them now you are just marked as old.


The problem with the “cross trainer” shoe was and, to a degree, still is, that it is OK at everything… but GOOD at nothing.  You can do a little of any sport in it, but if you specialize, it will fall apart pretty quick because it is not made for intense, daily use.

Serious athletes have long since learned that purpose built, specialty shoes provide better support and last longer because they are DESIGNED for the singular type of abuse you plan on giving them.  Likewise with training.  If you want to be really good at something, you have to focus and specialize.

What does this have to do with anything…?

At my “advanced” age… That is 48 in 10 days…  Several years ago a sage doctor looked at me in the exam room, beaten and broken by “specialized” training for marathons, and suggested I look elsewhere for my endurance fix.  After initially snorting at him and dismissing his suggestion of triathlons as “cross training”, I spent the next 9 months trying to prove him wrong by coming back as a runner… and failing.

Low and behold, 7 years later I experienced my best year as an athlete by being balanced in my training for, of all things, triathlons (and somewhere that doc is getting his deserved “I told you so” on).  By being disciplined and not overloading one sport, I felt good and strong all year.  Not “GREAT” at any one sport, but good at all three.

But just like the cross trainer shoe, I also felt that I couldn’t be really good at one of the sports without giving up something on the other two.  AND, just like the cross trainer shoe… Once September rolled around and I changed my focus to running only for the fall, I have slowly started falling apart too soon again.  Nothing major, but my knees, achilles and back are starting to show some twinges that they did NOT when I was running less.

Again, what does this have to do with anything?

I REAAALLLY like to run.  More than anything else.  And I REAAALLLY want another shot at the marathon since it kicked my butt last time.  AND I REAAALLLY drank the trail running Kool-Aid this fall and am completely enamored with running AT LEAST a 50K next year as well.

…but I’m afraid I’m going to fall apart again like that old cross trainer…

I’ve found a plan that has me swimming on Monday and Friday and only running long on Saturday/Sunday (back to backs).

…I don’t know.  I just feel like I’m insane to even try this again…  And adding miles…?  Offroad…?  Something is wrong with me… obviously…


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