Overkill in one sport? The power of cross training

For the last few years I’ve biked nearly every day of the summer. But my progress has ground to a halt. Each summer it happens because a) I get comfortable doing the same routine, b) I like comfortable and I like routine, and c) my body grows accustomed to my biking and therefore is unimpressed with it.

This season I’m tuned into the huge benefits of cross training. I like to think that cross training will activate some superhuman powers and relieve me of this winter thickening.

I’m thinking it will go something like this: Biking up and down Crystal Mountain until the gears give out. Running up and down the road until I keel over. Then some strength training with my friends until someone gets hurt. I think it’s gonna be the best summer ever.

The pros say cross training is the way to go: it keeps your body guessing, keeps boredom at bay and keeps you in need of the latest garb and gadgets for a bunch of new sports. What’s not to love?

1. Pick 3 sports. Try to do cardio, strength training and something that sounds credible but is really a treat, like Pilates. Let’s face it – you aren’t ever going to be in a Pilates race and therefore it’s a luxury, what you make of it is all that matters, your time, your pleasure. Make sure to carve this time out and protect it fiercely from any naysayers who only wish they, too, could cross train.

2. Pick more friends. Do not set yourself up to play with the same people all the time. If they beat you in one sport, you will be OK. If they beat you in two or more, you will have a Facebook unfriending on your hands.

3. Be flexible. If you aren’t feeling too great, or fear there’s a restroom visit in the near future, this is the day to pick a sport that will keep you close to home. Select a route that offers the density of pine boughs or takes you past homes at which you are privy to the all-important hidden key.

4. Don’t be a pro. The beauty of cross training is the overall fitness level achieved. You are working different muscles each time. This means that while your hardcore runner friends can scorch you in a 5K, they will be wheezing in the front yard playing soccer with an 8-year-old. You, on the other hand, will be doing lunges and squats for fun while blocking anything a 2nd grader can dole out. You will feel smart, savvy and a wee bit sexy.

5. Take turns. Cross training means fewer injuries resulting from overuse or repetition of the same muscles and joints. The day you run your first mile and pull the muscles from your shins, you can recover and still get in a workout like strength training. Don’t be afraid to go hog wild with one sport, learn your limits (and how to treat them), then limp over to the next sport and repeat.

It’s a beautiful thing to see what you can do next when you don’t tie yourself to any one sport. When you cross-train you are unstoppable – there are no shin splints, flat tires or rainy days to keep you down.