Cross-training. We hear all the time how important it is to help us become better runners. As Runner’s World explains, cross-training a) builds strength and flexibility in muscles we don’t use while running, b) prevents injury by correcting muscular imbalances, and c) prevents boredom and running burnout by introducing variety into our weekly workouts. Typically when cross-training is mentioned it implies activities like cycling, swimming, using an elliptical machine, and weight-training.
For me, my meager attempts at cross-training have included lots of walking and one or two attempts at weight-training with tiny little 2-lb. free weights. I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to soccer, but my fear of getting injured coupled with my frustration at how my local rec league is run has kept me from signing up. I’ve offered my services as an emergency sub for Drew’s team, but have been secretly thankful that I haven’t been called upon at all.
Yesterday, with some prodding from my friend Julie, I decided to throw some variety into my weekly activities. I like to think of it as cross-training, but I’m not sure how many running experts would agree. I signed up for…
I haven’t played kickball since the 5th grade, when my classmates and I had one continuous game going that picked up again every recess… kind of like The Sandlot but with a big rubber ball instead of bats and gloves. I loved it. We played a weird, twisted form of kickball in high school gym class – matball – but it just wasn’t the same. I’ve known the local rec league has offered kickball for years, but again, my being jaded with the league (the same league that I used to play soccer in) and the overly competitive players it tends to attract made me hesitate. Until now, apparently!
When I went to sign up I noticed that my league membership is due to lapse at the end of August. Having vowed not to renew again because of my unhappiness with the league, but bummed that I had only participated in one session (6v6 soccer) in the past year and so had not gotten my money’s worth of membership discounts, I decided to milk my last 4 days for all they were worth. In addition to signing up for kickball at a discount, I also bit the bullet and signed up for soccer again.
Drew and I have played in the 6v6 league twice, both times as indies, and both times really enjoyed it and met some great friends (Colin and Julie!). Signing up as indies, instead of joining as a pre-existing team, takes so much pressure off (no one expects indies teams to play well, so you can mess up and no one really cares too much), and I love that the 6v6 games have no goalies. For one, no one ever wants to play goalie so it adds a bit of drama each game deciding who has to play, and for another, it seriously increases my chances of scoring, which I don’t do very often.
So, they might not be the most traditional methods of cross-training (though I have seen soccer mentioned as a great way to cross-train, and fabulous people like Brit and Piper make it work) but I am looking forward to breaking up the monotony of my weeks a little… no more run-rest day-should be doing core work but I’m sitting on the couch-run-rest, etc. for a while. Plus, I’ll be doing a lot of running on grass instead of asphalt, which will hopefully help my shins. I just hope I don’t get taken out by an overzealous tackle – I’d hate for my cross-training to result in an injury! Keep your fingers crossed for me…
What’s your favorite way to cross-train?
Have you ever played kickball? What about as an adult?