Click to Shop
November 10, 2017

Why I Quit Cross-Training



In general, I don’t like to talk about injuries. Because (cynical font):

Running injuries…blah, blah, blah. There is nothing new or interesting to say about injuries and the injury cycle…the first time someone gets injured they have a new perspective and feel like they are the first person to ever go through it. Just points to the lack of true empathy around. Runners start talking and eyes glaze over. 

But, on reflection I'm going to refute cynical me. I know how much I’ve gained from Lauren’s writing on injury (search her entire Ask Lauren Fleshman site, but you can start with this piece here). I've got lots o' personal material. I’ve spent more time injured than healthy in my running life. (The 17 years from age 22 to 39 definitely account for a good chunk. That’s a reallllly long boring story involving a barium enema, exploratory laparoscopic surgery, 3 babies, and diaphragmatic ART).

And since returning to running in 2009, I’m probably at about 50% health-time. Why? I don’t know. I don’t over-train. I’m way more conservative about rest and recovery than most of my peers. I’ve had numerous excellent PT evals. I get body work (thanks Richelle!). I eat tendon jello. My athlete blood tests are fine. I lift and do core/ ancillary strengthening very religiously. No doubt my injury propensity involves some bio-mechanical factors, liking to sprint too much, age and something genetic with my soft tissue structure (always tendon/fascia issues…that come on silently and then take 6-9 months to heal, post-PRP).


So, I’m not here to talk about the boring specifics of my current injury, but something I’ve come to accept: I have a new attitude about cross-training. I'm not going to do it! 


My definition of cross training is: doing a non-running activity with the sole purpose of maintaining cardiovascular fitness for when I can start back running. Cross training activities for me are: indoor elliptical, pool running, swimming (I am a terrible swimmer, have taken lessons but still feel like controlled drowning and I hate it), stationary biking.

Non-running activities I enjoy intrinsically and will do if I physically can: aggressive hiking, Elliptigo (if easily accessible and can get to uphill-only route), yoga (only if the right class aka Jasyoga), dancing, snowboarding, lifting. And I’m open to more! Maybe I should try rowing? Yep, I’m picky. But I’m almost 50 so I’m giving myself permission. And you know what? I’d rather be out of shape coming back to running than spend precious time and mental energy doing something I don’t enjoy.

Ahhhh! So liberating!

And actually, it’s probably a better idea for me that my CV fitness limits my return to activity, rather than always waiting around for my soft tissue to catch up to fitness (and risk more injury).


After my PRP injection a few days ago (hi, old friend!), I'm boot constrained and feeling a little sad. I haven't run since mid-July and probably won't until late January. Historically I'd become decently good at being injured: flipping the switch to “support person” for my run squad (extreme cowbelling/ schlepping), or when it got too intense just tuning out and focusing on other areas of my life (medicine, kids, living life). But that gets tricky now that I'm working at Oiselle. There’s no way to escape it! So instead I'm going to drag my punctured tendon and boot across the country for a love infusion from my team.  

Then: progression with the goal of hitting the snowboard in early January. I'm going to fight to keep running, because I love it. I LOVE IT!!! Sally, I’ll be back for you some day, but you’re gonna have to go easy on me. I’m going to be really out of shape. And that's ok!  



Lindsay Knake | November 10, 2017 at 11:09am


I am with you! I recently gave myself permission to not like yoga. After trying for years, I just don't enjoy it. I've decided I'll still continue to practice a few times a week while I'm in training because it does relax me and make me feel better, but I only need 10 minutes. There's no need to for to push myself to do more. There's something to be said for doing the things we love; I truly believe it helps us stay healthier.

Ara Miralles | November 10, 2017 at 2:55pm


I would love to know your thougts and experiences with PRP. It looks like you may suffer from the same injury O am suffering from: insertional achilles tendonitis. I am a NP and have reviewed the literature but there isn’t much on treating insertional achilles tendonitis. So I am sitting on the fence about doing the procedure but mentally suffering from not running. Thanks Ara

denise heinen | November 10, 2017 at 3:55pm

Sarah - I am so sorry to hear

Sarah - I am so sorry to hear of your injury and frustrations. I was fortunate enough to run in Arizona with you and the Oiselle team this past January. I was pushing so hard to finish and the miles challenged me then at the last 3 miles you flew by me with what seemed like an effortless pace. I admit, I was envious at how easy your pace was as you flew by me...smiling! You looked awesome and relaxed! Hold on to that because you are a beautiful runner! Heal well and enjoy the snowboarding!

Blair | November 10, 2017 at 6:25pm


Swimming feels like controlled drowning!! Yes! So so true. I've been battling (related) mystery injuries for the last 3 1/2 years. I started swim lessons this summer to have a non-weight-bearing cardio activity to do. I cannot believe how hard it is. I'm six months into lessons and it is still such a struggle to coordinate everything. It's so humbling. Running is just my thing, the thing my body feels meant to do. Except apparently not, because I can't get healthy. Anyway, I really appreciate this post. It resonated a lot. I've spent 3 1/2 years pushing myself through unenjoyable cross training to keep up my fitness. It's inspiring to see someone take a stand against that. Embrace the grief, the uncertainty, and find meaning in life in other ways.

Linda | November 10, 2017 at 8:04pm

As someone about to turn 50

As someone about to turn 50 in 3 days, I so hear you. My broken down triathlete body just can’t seem to heal. My meagre 30 minute run today was spent realizing how badly I need another hip injection. After a solid decade of non-stop training while being a mom and a lawyer, I gave myself the gift this year of realizing it is ok for me not to race and not to train so hard. The activity I do now is because I want to, not because I need to. It took a long time for me to get there, but at some point I couldn’t Ignore my body anymore. Thank you for sharing. It is appreciated.

jeqnne | November 14, 2017 at 9:32am

yes - try rowing!

But please -if you do it on an indoor rower (erg), get a REAL rower to show you how to use it? Gym trainers and cross-fit people don't know how to use this machine, and it is easily the best all-body workout you can find. But, I would also encourage you to try it on the water, as it's the ultimate team sport!

Ara Miralles | December 5, 2017 at 3:19pm

Thank you

Hi Sarah, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to me at the CIM Expo regarding your past experience with PRP. Good luck with your continued recovery Ara Miralles

You Might Also Like

New Injuries, Recovery Time, and Looking Ahead

For weeks I endured chronic pain, stubbornly pushing...

Fierce Flyer: Allie Bigelow Comes Back Like a Champ

My diagnosis came in mid-May, and my physical...