working out in Vegas and running 101: the importance of crosstraining

Just got back from sunny Las Vegas yesterday and I am dead.  I averaged a total of 9 miles between my workouts and just walking around everyday and got an average of less than 5 hours of sleep every single day I was there.  So to say I crashed hard when I got home is a drastic understatement.

Working out in Vegas is a very interesting experience to say the least.  I was there for a conference for work, so I still had to get up every morning and get my butt to meetings by 8am.  Lucky for me, the time zone worked in my favor and waking up at 5am really felt like waking up at 8am, which was awesome.  But, that also meant that every other east coaster and their dog decided to join me at the gym.

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It was literally standing room only with some people waiting up to 20 minutes for a machine.  I opted two of the days to do some weighted circuits just because I didn’t feel like waiting.  Also, please note that the man who caught me selfie-ing in the gym sent me a LinkedIn request…I’m not kidding.

As the week went on, the gym goers lost their umph and slowly started dropping out.  On my last day there, you could use any machine you wanted because there were about 3 people besides myself up and ready to attack the day.

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Just goes to show that you have to make your own motivation sometimes.  I think it’s amazing the amount of change in people who worked out in a week.  If you want it, you work for it.  Simple as that.  No one makes you get up and get your butt to the gym, but I know I personally feel so much more prepared for the day when I do.

That being said, overall, it was a pretty good workout week for me in Vegas.  7 mile run on Monday, Tuesday was a body weight circuit and some ellipticalling, Wednesday was a really mentally tough 5 mile run (I was just so darn tired and my legs. just. hurt.) but I powered through, Thursday was 3 miles and some bodyweight HIIT, and Friday was a rest day to recover from all this craziness.  As you can see, I didn’t run everyday and that’s actually pretty normal for me.

I’m a firm believer in mixing up your training.  I have been running for many years and I always find if I try to run everyday or if I focus only on running, I get injured.  And after years of trying again and again to do this and failing, I realized there’s totally a science to why I always end up benched.

Pattern overload is the damage of soft tissue by repeatedly performing the same movements.  Wonder why tendonitis appears so often to baseball pitchers so late in the season?  It’s because they are repeatedly doing the same motion over and over and stressing out their tendons.  The same thing can happen if you’re repeating the same workout program everyday.  If you run a quick 5 miles everyday at the same pace in the same location, you’re asking for trouble.  The best way to overcome pattern overload and to avoid injury is to switch things up every once and awhile.

If you’re looking to keep your cardio up without running, good cross training options include the stationary bike, the stair stepper, the elliptical (especially good because it’s easy on your knees and joints), or swimming.  All of these provide cardio benefits while switching the muscles your body is working.

If you’re not into extra cardio and want to really switch things up, focus on strength training.  I know I personally have benefited exponentially since adding strength training into my routine.  Just because you’re running often doesn’t mean your muscles are getting any stronger.  To put some extra strength and power into your runs, try focusing on plyometric moves (super important for runners), squats and lunges.  These moves help work the muscles you use while running (especially the often neglected glutes) and other muscles around them to ensure you don’t have some compensating for others which could lead to bad problems down the road.

Workout: Try setting your timer for 15 minutes and completing this circuit as many times as possible:

  • 15 squats
  • 15 walking lunges (with of without weights)
  • 15 star jumps
  • 15 burpees
  • 15 side to side lunges

Finally, here’s a picture of the Boo perfectly explaining how I felt coming home from Vegas.  This dog just gets me.

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-sj

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