Cross-training is the bane of many runners’ existence. It’s about as appealing as getting a gym membership. I feel your pain.
Although I’ve been a member of or worked at some type of gym/health club since I was about 16 years old, I, too, prefer my exercise disguised as a fun activity! Not that I don’t love to lift, squat, and work with my beloved kettle bells, I just tend to find more gratification from twerking to a bass-driven Zumba song, taking an invigorating Bikram Yoga class, or beating someone up in a fight class!
I’d rather burn calories outdoors than in, although this season, I’ve learned to actually like the treadmill and the mental challenges it provides. “Yay, I just ran 3 seconds, only 3,597 more to go!” ==> random fact: My Treadmill Distance PR = 12 miles
That said, I cannot stress the importance of cross-training. Why? Not because I’m a certified personal trainer, but because running is the activity you enjoy doing. Running is not necessarily your “workout”. We runners want to work out with a program that is designed to strengthen and lengthen those muscles which support our joints while we pound the pavements and traverse the trails for miles on end. We want to check for muscle imbalances which can be corrected through exercise. Most injuries result from running a lot with muscle imbalances gone unchecked.
Runners are constantly debating “good form” vs. “bad form”, but the bottom line is not how graceful or clunky you look, and not whether you’re a forefoot/midfoot/heel striker, but it’s how your body is responding to your running. If you’re chronically pained, go get a functional movement screen done. Listen to your body and start strengthening and stretching those areas of weakness and inflexibility. Do it before you need to go under the knife, or these days, those laser thingys.
In essence, think of your cross-training as supporting your body to do what you love (run), stronger and longer. Cross-training is kinda like taking your supplements…you do it because it’s part of the discipline of training. So do me a favor, next time you’re shopping for a gym, please don’t tell the salesperson that you’re a runner and that you really don’t need a gym membership. LOL.