Day 178: Marathon training day 1, week 1/18 and the importance of cross training


Today marks day one of training.  Cross training was insanity cardio. As I embark on this journey, I want to be as well informed as possible. The first thought when training for a marathon is that all you need to do is run as much as possible and you will get to the finish line. However the reality is a bit more complicated than that.

When I got up today I was tempted to just skip cross training and go out for a run but decided that there is a reason why marathon experts include a day of cross training every week.

What is cross training?

Cross training is any sport or exercise that supplements your main sport. In our case, any exercise that supplements our running.

What is the importance of cross training?

  • Helps balance your muscles. Cross training helps strengthen your non-running muscles and rests your running muscles. You can focus on specific muscles, such as your inner thighs, that don’t get worked as much while running and may be weaker than your running muscles.
  • Improve your cardio level. In order to run a marathon, your level of cardio fitness needs to be extremely high. This will make it easier for you to run without feeling that you will pass out at any second.
  • Reduce your chance for injury. By balancing your weaker muscles with your stronger ones, you’ll help reduce your chance of injury. Participating in low-impact cross training activities, such as swimming or water running, will also lessen the stress on your joints, which are often a sore spot for runners. Cross training can also be a tool to use when suffering from a running injury. By taking up something that has a lower impact to your running muscles such as swimming, you can still build up your cardio fitness and strength while recovering from an injury.
  • Beak the monotony. As much as you might love running, you can bored with it if you go for 18wks of running daily. By breaking it up with cross training, you reduce the boredom that can come from the monotony of running


Cross training Ideas

  1. Swimming. Because you are not bearing your joints with your weight while swimming, you give your joints a break while building strength, endurance and flexibility. Things you will need for your marathon
  2. Cycling or spinning. Cycling and spin classes are also great low-impact ways to boost your cardiovascular fitness and strength, especially your quads and glutes.
  3. Elliptical. You can program the elliptical to move in either a forward or backward motion, so you can work all the major muscles in your legs. Because the muscles used on the elliptical are similar to those you use when running, the machine is a good low-impact alternative when an injury prevents you from running.
  4. Walking. Yes it is similar to running but it puts less impact on your muscles and can be great if you are recovering from a long run.
  5. Strength/ weight training. Strength training allows runners to improve the strength in their running muscles, create balance between unbalanced muscle groups, and focus on keeping their legs strong during injury recovery. Strength training is an excellent opportunity to strengthen your core, which helps runners avoid fatigue and maintain their form.
  6. Yoga. Yoga offers some of the same benefits as strength training, since you’ll use your body weight as resistance to strengthen your muscles. You’ll also improve your flexibility since it involves a lot of stretching. This is also a great way to relax after a long run.
  7. Work out DVD. This can come in the form of yoga, dancing, cardio etc


The things you can do are endless. Find something that you love and that will help along the way.

Tomorrow is day one of actual running. 3 miles.


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