Monday, July 4, 2011

Cross-Training Epiphany

People actually do know what they're talking about...

...well sometimes they do.

When it comes to cycling and the wonders of cross-training, it took me a long time to become a believer and to jump on the bandwagon.  Now I'm firmly on, have pitched my tent, and am not going anywhere.

Less than two years ago, I bought myself a road bike during the annual clear out the summer stock fall sale.  It was mostly on a whim as I had not really thought about wanting to cycle until I saw the flyer. I walked in to the store, saw a very pretty blue and white bike and the only one left was in my size. I'm not one who believes in fate - I tend to believe more in faeries - but the signs were all leading me to my Trek.  A few days later, I was learning how to clip in to my new pedals and, within a week, I had made it to the top of Rockway hill without falling off, walking, or suffering some other form of embarassment.

I was a cyclist!

My avid cycling friends, most of whom were seasoned marathoners, had told me that cycling was a great form of cross-training.  It helps to flush the legs after their Saturday long run and, apparently, cycling uses different muscles so you can still have a great ride even if you're exhausted from your run. 

For the few months I had left in my first cycling season, it was all I could do to keep up.  I trailed behind the group, panting along the flat parts and gasping on the slightest incline.  It was hard.  Just as hard as running - although different.

The second season wasn't much different.  I had learned how to make the gears work for me, wasn't afraid of hills and no longer doubted my ability to finish a ride.  I was not signing up for the Tour de France but I did sign up for two duathlons. 

Yesterday, in the middle of my third season of cycling, I finally got it. I finally saw how cycling and running are made for each other.

On Saturday, I stretched for almost an hour after my run.  And yet I was still limping around the house for most of the afternoon.  My hips were tight, my ankles had lost their flexibility and my knees hurt.

Sunday, I groaned as I swung my leg over the crossbar and got on the bike.  Someone mentioned that we were cycling up the big hill by Niagara College and I silently cursed everyone I could think of.  Wasn't an 18k run enough for one weekend? 

I told myself to suck it up, it was only 75 minutes on the bike. 

It turns out that the ride was exactly what I needed.  It was hot and humid out but the breeze on the bike was refreshing.  The heat limbered up my tight muscles. The hill was long but gradual and I just kept pumping my legs until I got to the top.  The long stretches of flat road worked wonders on my legs - flushing out all the crap from the run the day before. 

I creaked and groaned when I got on the bike but I was an entirely different person by the time I got off.  Everything had loosened up, my hips worked properly, my knees were fine and I felt energized again. 

Apparently there is something to this whole cross training thing.

In fact, my spontaneous bike purchase on that random fall day may be what ends up saving me this summer.

Who knows - I may run this damn marathon because I cycle on Sundays.

Go figure.


  1. woohoo! Glad to hear Sunday was a much better day for you after reading about Saturday's run. I may just have to show up for 1 of these rides, they sound like fun.

  2. I'm almost inspired to pick up this bike thing .. I said almost, lol! I'm glad to hear you are having great results :)

  3. Hey, we have the same bike! Yay!

    p.s. Just wait until someone asks you about swimming...