Adventures in cross training

Last week was week three of training for the Broad Street Run. Unfortunately, it also marked the triumphant return of my evil shin splint problem. Shin splints have plagued me since I began training for Broad Street last year. They got better once I finally caved and bought expensive running shoes—they were nothing I couldn't just grit my teeth and get throught, but they were still always kind of nagging in the background.

Sunday, I did kickboxing as my crosstraining. I love kickboxing at the Y. I'm sure I look like a total idiot angrily punching the air, but it gets out a lot of aggression that builds up during the week. The only problem? The jumping involved. Jump kicks, shuffling, scissoring... you get the idea. I tried to go light on the jumping, but that's kind of hard to do without just skipping it altogether. The instructor always says you can march in place instead of jumping, but I have too much pride for that (heaven help me if I ever have to look like I'm attending a step aerobics class). Monday came and when I tried to do my meager 3 mile run, my shins were screaming like banshees at me to stop torturing them.

I decided to take the week off of running and explore my other options for cross training and injury prevention as I (hopefully) get rid of the shin splints. I did some research, and I decided that compression socks would be a good investment for me to make. Yeah, compression socks, much like the kind your diabetic granny wears to improve circulation to her feet. Except that I decided if I was going to have to wear knee socks when I run, I'm going to take it all the way:

Socks.JPG

(Fantastic, I just noticed I have my socks on the wrong feet in this picture. I am so smart, S-M-R-T)

So I've got the compression socks in the rotation in addition to frequent ice packs on my legs and that has seemed to help. The next thing to figure out was how am I going to work out without running? I've already been doing yoga twice a week as my strength training, and I didn't want to go straight to the elliptical machine because I really wanted to give my legs a break. That leaves two options: the dreaded stationary bike and swimming.

I know that lots of people love to do spinning as their workout. I am not one of those people. I took a beginner spinning class once (basically, that meant it was a half an hour instead of an hour) and I really, seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack. As someone who considers herself to be in good shape, that was somewhat alarming. The thing that really killed it though, was how sore my bum was after just 30 minutes "in the saddle." Yeah. Trying to sit in an office chair all day after that...not so fun. However, for the purposes of this week's break, I forced myself to do two days of cardio on the stationary bike at the Y (without a spinning instructor screaming in my face about pumping myself up to get up some imaginary hill as sweat would stream into my eyes and partially blind me). Yes, it was terribly boring. Luckily, there is good people watching at the Y. (In fact, that night I saw a man with a Dog the Bounty Hunter style blonde, feathered mullet. He was there with his son, who was sporting the mini-mullet).

On the third day, I talked myself into trying to swim. This was kind of a big deal for me. I get weirdly anxious about trying out new activities where I don't know the protocol (am I going to have to share a lane with someone else who can actually swim fast? Is the lifeguard going to be snickering at me because I can't do a flip turn?) I also didn't have the proper gear for a swimming workout, so I headed to the store to pick up a one piece bathing suit and some goggles. I am happy to report that being ridiculously short finally paid off for once in my life—although it's really sort of creepy, I was able to fit into (the largest size of) a girl's Speedo. Which was a lot less expensive than a woman's size suit.

I headed to the indoor pool at a strategically low-traffic time (it worked! I didn't have to share a lane) and began swimming away. "This isn't so bad," I thought as I gracefully did the breaststroke to warm up. "I think I'll do some freestyle to change it up." Yeah. Um...two laps of freestyle and I was gasping for air and my heart was pounding from exertion. Holy hell! For the rest of my swimming workout, I tried to make deals with myself to work in more freestyle, but every time I tried to do it, it seemed like I got more out of breath. Eventually I just went back to good old-fashioned breast stroke. I at least know how to do that one properly—so what if the smell of chlorine was burning my nose hairs and I was swimming at a grandma pace? The creepy, middle-aged man rocking a Speedo and gold chain in the next lane over definitely outswam me. It was somewhat shameful.

It just goes to show that although I can run 13.1 miles, I'm terrible at swimming and biking because I haven't trained to get better at them. Tomorrow I'm back to attempting to run. I've got the compression socks ready to roll, new sneakers implemented, and a week of rested legs. Here's hoping that the Julie-concocted home remedies for shin splints pays off.