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The hack that made me actually like my cross-training

Finally one writer has cracked the code to find out how to enjoy athletic endeavors that aren't running

Cross-training is not my favourite thing. I’d much rather be on a run, than on the bike or elliptical – I’m not unique in that way. However, leaving the roads behind for some low impact-training is sometimes a must.

As I’ve been working my up way to some higher mileage weeks, I’ve had a nice build over a seven week period in which I’m comfortably hitting 75 miles per week. I plan to keep building upon that. All has been going well and I’ve felt strong and energized. Of course, there have been days where my legs have felt fatigued as I’ve adapted to the higher mileage, but nothing overwhelming – in fact in many ways, my body has felt at its best during this period of time.

RELATED: Cross-train to conquer the long run

There is, however, a catch to all this fun mileage building.

I started doing some of my weekly mileage on a small indoor track to avoid putting in too many miles on concrete. It turns out that the constant turning on a 250m track was too much for left achilles to take. I was doing up to eight miles at time on that track, back-to-back days. That’s a lot of planting, turning and ultimately twisting of my achilles. It became quite clear I needed to back off before this irritation turned into a full-blown injury.

I was disappointed to have to back off, but I’ve kept it in perspective. With the base I’ve built and my ability to cross-train without any pain, I’m confident I’m going to be able to keep my fitness up and continue building upon the work I’ve put in.

So I’m faced with having to cross train even though I don’t love it. Upon realizing this, I knew I needed to find a way to enjoy it. I reflected a bit on what it was that made it so unappealing to me, besides the fact that it’s not running. I think my issue is that I don’t like the ambiguity around it. I don’t like not knowing what I’m achieving after an hour on the stationary bike, for example. So, I thought I’d do a little research to better understand what exactly I gain by cycling. I figured if I had goals in mind, and could relate it back to the bigger picture of my mileage build-up, I’d be able to enjoy it more.

As it turns out, a little understanding goes a long way. My attitude towards riding the bike completely shifted when I came across a simple formula that translates cycling time into the equivalent number of miles run. The formula is 60 minutes of biking at 70 per cent of your maximum heart rate (220 minus age) equals five miles of running. So, I simply inserted the appropriate amount of time each day on the bike to reach the same number of miles I would typically run on a given day. For example, a 15 mile day means three hours on the bike with my heart rate kept above 70 per cent of my maximum. It’s a lot of sweating.

Having these concrete numbers, and knowing exactly what I need to do in order to achieve my weekly mileage goals is proving to make the once-dreaded cross training a much more. Problem solved.