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Monday Miles--Cross Training

Awesome by August challengers: weigh in post is over at Brooke: Not on a Diet today.

Training for my marathon I did a little cross training, but didn't really understand why I should, or what benefits it held. This time around in my half marathon race training I am a huge fan of cross training. I am witnessing the impact it can have on my running much more than ever before. 

I have read a lot about strength training and running. There seems to be many for it and some against it, especially when talking lifting heavy and not just light weights at high repetitions. I however am definitely for it.

The strength training I have done the past few months coupled with the weight loss I've achieved and the speed work I've been doing has had great impact on my speed. During my marathon training my long runs were soooo slow. My average pace was 13-14 minutes per mile. Now on my long runs my pace is 10 1/2 to 11 1/2 minute miles. On shorter runs (about 2 miles or so) I can hold a 10 minute mile pace. My fastest mile time right now is about 9 and a half minutes. All things I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to do just a year and a half ago!

I also have high hopes that the strength training and weight loss will help me to avoid injury this time. Strengthening my body overall can help with injury prevention. While losing weight will just give my body and joints less stress with every step. 

Cross training such as biking and lower impact workouts allow me to build my cardiovascular and burn more calories while giving my legs a break from the impact. I still hope to lose weight while training which means torching calories. To avoid over-training I have to get creative with my calorie burn on some days. I personally feel my best when I only run 3 days a week, 4 tops. So I fill in the other days with cross training.

I have worked in at least 2 or 3 days of cross training each week. I'm still listening to my body and willing to adapt that at any point to avoid over training, but I'm definitely seeing benefits from it so far.

How about you, do you cross train? Do you think it's important?