How to use Cross Training While Injured
Has this ever happened to you? You’re on a run and suddenly things don’t feel quite right. There’s a pain in your left tibia (shin) that won’t go away. You run a few more miles hoping it’s nothing.
At home, you stretch like a rubber band in a slingshot hoping you were just sore from a previous run. The next morning you wake up and have that gut feeling – There will be no running for me today. When you have pain even before you get out of bed in the morning, that’s usually a good indication something is wrong.
This scenario has played out for me more than once. Occasionally, I decide to ignore my instincts and continue to run until I’m hobbling along like a baby deer learning to walk. It’s ugly both physically and mentally. Fortunately, many running injuries allow you to still do other forms of activity. The best way to become a better runner is to run, but when running isn’t an option, there are ways to combat this dark cloud of runners’ depression.
Pick Cross Training You Enjoy (tolerate)
If you’re like me, you’d rather pluck out each of the hairs on your head individually then hop on an elliptical. I’m not a fan of swimming either. I hate submerging my body in ice-cold water at the wee hours of the morning. Pools are the only things that open earlier than coffee shops – which doesn’t bode well for me.
I have found I can usually handle cruising on a bike, but am particular about my bike selection. I don’t like electrical bikes, but on spin bikes, I like that I can manually adjust the resistance.
Find what you enjoy!
Do your Workout on a Machine
To bop around on an electrical machine for an hour straight might seem like a death sentence. I can’t stand going one speed for an hour on the bike or elliptical. To fight boredom, plan your workouts for your cross training. Fartlek’s work great for this.
Example: on a forty-five minute bike ride, do a ten-minute warm up then fartlek for thirty-five minutes. Go hard and increase resistance for 5 minutes, then reduce resistance and heart rate on the recovery. Repeat. I find this to go much faster, and you can workout in any setting; pool running, bike, elliptical, etc.
Don’t be Afraid to try New Things
Take advantage of those classes at your gym you’ve wanted to try but don’t fit into your running schedule. I recently did some Body Ballet Sculpt and Warrior Yoga. It was difficult, but very rewarding. I found it invigorating to challenge myself in a way that I hadn’t before.
It is also a time for me to workout with others who don’t enjoy running as much. Most of us have friends outside the running community. Get in touch with them and plan a class or workout together. It makes the gym a heck of a lot less painful.
The next time you’ve been placed on the injured list, wallow in self-pity for a day or two then get active (unless of course you’ve been prescribed rest)! Don’t let an injury keep you from maintaining fitness. Your cardiovascular system will thank you!