Why does cross training work?

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me mention specificity of training. In short, this is the idea that the best way to become a better runner is to run. You can do other things and they will help but they won’t help as much as devoting the same amount of time and energy to running.

But then, why do things like strength training matter? Strength training specifically is extremely different than distance running. It’s basically a polar opposite. So why does it help us run better?

Well, Alex Hutchinson offers some thoughts on that. An interesting read.

A lot of us have probably experienced running blocking our sensation of pain. Late in a race, when your body should be screaming at you in pain, you feel nothing. Shortly after the finish line, it all rushes in and you can barely walk. Or you’re doing a workout and just cruising like there’s nothing to it. Then you finish and you’re staggering.

But what if you’re told that this isn’t true, that exercise actually increases the pain you feel? Surprisingly (to me at least) it appears that you will respond by actually feeling more pain. The mind is a powerful thing. Always good to get reminders of that lesson.

What is your threshold? There’s a tricky subject. There are so many definitions out there for such a widely used term and something that is targeted by so many workouts. Alex Hutchinson (again) has some good thoughts on what your threshold really means.

Let your breathing guide you. I often tell people to let their breathing dictate their pace on easy runs. Steve Magness goes a step further here. He suggests how one might think about building an overall training plan on breathing. This is pretty vague and leaves a lot of room for interpretation, probably intentionally. However, I really like the idea. If you followed these guidelines, you could be flexible with how you wanted to implement them but you’d come out with a pretty solid training plan.

Note: This month’s recap is coming a week earlier than normal so I can offer a yearly recap of what’s been going on at HillRunner.com next week, on the last Thursday of the year.

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