So, the picture above says this was the unhealthiest year of my life…which is a strange way to feature a blog on cross training, right? Before I explain why I think cross training for marathon runners is the way to go, let me get something off my chest. February 2016 was the beginning of the unhealthiest year of my life… and I was running… a lot!
I registered for a marathon that month. I had run the half course the year prior and had decided that day this would be my full marathon course. I was terrified. I was shocked. I was excited. I wanted to throw up every time I thought about it.
But the fear passed as I realized I had PLENTY of time to train for my September 2017 marathon and really did not need to start the real training until May.
I continued with my home workouts and tried to build as much muscle as I could to get ready for all of the running I would be doing. I started to get excited.
As the days went by and May got closer I started to think about what training plan I would follow. I have NEVER followed a training plan for running…NEVER. But for my marathon I decided I really wanted to commit to Hal Higdon. It was the plan that thousands of people had followed to run a successful marathon and I wanted to be successful. So I downloaded the app and made my plan.
After 3 months with Hal Higdon’s plan we broke up.
Then, I decided cross training for marathon runners is the way to go!
I went back to what I knew. Cross-training 4 days per week, running 1-2 days per week. I love that I have programs at my fingertips that help me build endurance and strength and are just a ton of fun! BONUS I didn’t have to devote HOURS to running because my cross-training only took 30-60 minutes at home! Using cross-training I got stronger than I had felt in months. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time prior to my marathon to regain all of the strength I had lost while following Hal Higdon’s plan.
Marathon day came and I finished. I was slower than I wanted to be. I was 20 pounds heavier than I wanted to be. But I finished. And it felt amazing.
I was not very sore right after. I never hit the wall. I felt pretty dang amazing. So why the heck am I saying it’s the unhealthiest year of my life.
Well this happened in the midst of my training…
Training right is good for your liver!
Turns out elevated liver enzymes are fairly common in people who engage in very intense exercise like Crossfit or marathon running. If I had followed something like cross training for marathon runners, I likely wouldn’t have run into this. While I was relieved to find out that I could reverse mine once I was done with my training it didn’t seem healthy to be running around with elevated liver enzymes for 4 months. Running is good for you…running 26.2 miles…well I don’t think it is good for you. I should have stuck to a plan of cross training for marathon runners all along.
I think that is the statement that shocks the most people. When I say “running a marathon made me unhealthier than I have ever been” Do I regret doing it? No. It was an accomplishment and I am SO proud I did it. But in the BIG picture of my health it did not help me at all.
When I was done with my marathon I took a week off of working out and then started a detox plan to heal my liver. I didn’t run for SIX months…that’s how much I needed a break from it.
My nutrition suffered during training
The months of training had taken a toll on my nutrition as well. I had to eat more carbs, many of them processed more than I would like. I added more meat back into my diet to ensure my muscles had what they needed to recover after my long runs. Because one can only eat so many beans!
After working SO hard for 2 years to change the way I was eating for my health I felt like I was taking 2 steps backwards with my nutrition while I was training. Then post marathon it took me months to wean myself off of all of those carbs and new not so great habits I had formed.
There was also my physical fitness. My legs were STRONG but the rest of my body felt weak. I felt like I was starting over once my marathon was done. I had to use lighter weights, take more breaks and did not like the increased abdominal girth I now had.
Where I’m at today
As I sit here writing this I feel like my physical fitness is getting back to where it was but I am still heavier than I was and struggling to get my nutrition back to where it was prior.
I share this because I think that there’s this idea that everything is perfect. That I always feel amazing. I here to tell you the last year has been TOUGH. I have struggled more than I ever have before. Yes I ran a marathon. But I lost a lot in the process.
Here’s me now…far from where I was or where I want to be.
But I am thankful that I have all of you and the tools of my home workouts to keep me moving forward. I have started my own 365 days of fitness. I know that I can do this. I know that I am worth it. I know I will be successful.
And guess what YOU can be too! My Healthy Life Challenge is a great plan for cross training for marathon runners, non-runners, and even non-athletes. Click below to learn how you can get started.