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The secret to my FASTEST race times.

My first exposure to cross training was a rained-out track practice.

We fought for space in the school gym around the smelly basketball guys.

I remember doing planks- they were ok.

push ups- meh.

wall sits -booooring.

V -ups - thought these were the devil.

and these jumpy things onto boxes. -those were kinda cool.

The remainder of the track season I kept wishing it to rain again so we "had" to do cross training day again.

Yea. I kinda digged it.

Then cross country season came.

No more box jumps.

And no more mini hurdles (apparently those were for track only...well, we did them once. I loved it! but no one else did....)

and we did a lot more body weight exercise, a lot more consistently.

planks. crunches. push ups. maybe some Russian hamstring curls if it wasn't hill day.

But that....was as far as cross training went as part of the track or XC team.

However, there was this ONE coincidence during my first fall season of XC...

I ended of taking the mandatory Conditioning 1 class at the same time. (you know the one: with the beep test, how many push ups can you do, timed mile...) There were endless gripes and grumbles from students because they had to exercise, get sweaty in the middle of day, *insert high schooler complaint here*. But again...weirdo over here, now turned Professional Exercise Weirdo (physical therapy edition)...thought the whole thing was pretty cool. Because it turned into much more than a beep test or timed mile or how many push ups you could do.

We were taught weight room basics.

How to use the lat pull down.

How to bench.

Back squat.

How to do a row.

I almost felt like a traitor. Running is my jam and I love my XC team, but the gym...this is a WHOLE different challenge. And I like it! Lifting slowly became less mysterious and less of a "guy's workout". It became an entirely new set of tools to build and improve my athleticism, strength, and power.

And that, my fit fam, was the SECRET to my first XC season. We were lifting only 3x a week, but by the end of the XC season, not only was my cardio great and I could run and run and run... but I felt STRONG. I could run tall. My arms and core were upright and powering me, propelling me forward, instead of breaking down with fatigue.

And no, I didn't get bulky.

Fast forward to 10 years later, learning and falling in love with cross training has helped me in numerous ways through life's crazy and sometimes, unpleasant journey.

For example, when I encountered...

Health issue episode #1.

then #2.

and then a return for season #3.

(I'm sure there's a season #4 in there somewhere because someone forgot to cancel the subscription...)

During all of these, running was taken away from me. So I improvised.

I walked.

I lifted weights (as well as you can when you're not feeling 100%, even on your good days)

Other times, I did yoga, because that's all my body could handle.

I learned to view cross training through a different lens through these different health upsets. Instead of cross training becoming a chore, it became a safe space, an outlet, a second chance. And I learned so many valuable lessons and tools because of it. And I appreciated running that much more when I was, when I AM, able to return to it. Cross training keeps me prepared, ready, and willing to get back out there to run again.

So what do you say, fit fam? Changed your mind about cross training? Tell me in the comments below!

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