Friday, July 10, 2009

Cross training

I was reading a recent article about crosstraining and what it can do for a person. I think because I have been having issues with a sore heel, the article attracted my attention. There are many types of cross training, but I think I am most interested in aerobic training which means bike, swim, fast hike or indoor machines such as a stair climber.

One of the things that struck me in the article was about the fear that seems to be quite prevalent about riding the roads. This has been a concern of mine also but maybe not to as great an extent as others. On my website, I have added a section on bike road courses. My intent is to find good road courses that I would feel that most people could feel comfortable riding. I am looking for minimal traffic and a wide roadway, hopefully with defined bike lanes.

This criteria does not mean that there will be no danger but should minimize the exposure to traffic and allow you to concentrate more on the training. As I pointed out in the previous blog, riding is not as natural as running and you need to pay attention to the mechanics of riding. Gears need to be adjusted, you need to pay attention to object in the road, and you need to work on form to get the most from the ride. It is not much different that mountain running on some of the more technical trails. You cannot just mellow out and get into a rhythm. There is nothing like a nice wide trail to zone out on and just feel the flow but when you are on steep mountain trails, you need to pay attention. The same is true on the bike even when the course if fairly benign. A friend of my recently crashed because he wasn't paying attention and hit a curb...hard to imagine since curbs should be fairly obvious.

One of the thing I read about cross training is that as we age, we lose some of our flexibility and ability to absorb shock. Cross training can help to keep us up aerobically but rest from the shock of every day running. I tend to prefer biking as my alternative since it does work many of the same muscles and some of the opposing ones, it does not require too much in additional you can ride from your door step or a close location. It also provides some exhilaration expecially on the downhills around here.

If you are thinking about cross training, consider the bike courses I have mapped out. They are not easy and will challenge your riding if you do not ride regularly and will definitely challenge your aerobic system if you challenge the hills.