Cross Training
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Cross Training

by the Common Sense Coach --

Jack Berkery 

(The following was first printed in the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club newsletter)

I've been seeing a lot written lately about something called cross-
training.  There have been articles in Runner's World, the Sunday
newspapers, in lots of sports publications. Hey, there's even a special
type of cross-training shoe.  Looks like a regular sneaker except they've
glued a few extra pieces of flashy multi-colored plastic here and there
to make it look cool. Well, I get to thinking, maybe there's something to
it if all these here experts are into it.  So I decided why not give it a
shot? How's it gonna hurt?

I went down to the lumber yard and got me two big 4 by 4's about 10 feet
long, notched one out about two-thirds the way up and nailed them together.
That wasn't a terrible lot of work, but then I'm just getting started
anyway.  Realizing I'm just a neophyte at this stuff, I figure I ought to
go at it slowly at first, so what I figure the thing to do is just kinda
drag it around for a while. Now, you might think it ain't as hard as
lifting barbells, but the catch is this cross thing is lop-sided. Might
have been a whole lot easier to handle it if there were cross beams at
both ends, but nope, I'm going to see what all the commotion is about and
I'm gonna do it up right or nothing. One cross-bar it is. So here I went
dragging my 4x4's around town and you wouldn't believe the looks I'm
getting. I used to be a "jogger" a couple decades ago when it wasn't
fashionable and got lots of strange remarks and sidewise glances, but the
reactions I'm getting now are just plain strange. People roll down their
windows and either curse me or bless me. I can't figure them out. Anyway,
the upshot is it's hell on the shoulders, so maybe I'm doing it wrong.

Next I got to remembering a few years back when the biggest fad was
inversion boots. Folks would buy these big metal frames and clamp ski
boots into some harness and hang upside-down. It was highly touted
because it let all the blood flow to the brain, it stretched out the
spine and you could do it in the privacy of your own home where the rest
of the world wouldn't think you were just plain batty. It was supposed
to be the best thing invented since those old chest-pull springs. Maybe
you remember them, the ones that clamp down on a big bunch of chest hair
and yank it out by the clump. Yeeouch! Not my favorite device. Now the
latest wonder equipment is the sit-up seat. Yeah, you know, this plastic
chair with no legs, but it does have handles and I think you're supposed
to sit in it, grab the handles and try to lift yourself clear off the
ground. What kinda genius invented that? Hey, there I go again getting off
the subject. Where was I?

Oh yeah, inversion. See, I figure this cross-training idea doesn't have
much going for it by lifting or dragging it around. So, it's out to the
back yard with a post-hole digger and I plant the whole rig in the ground.
Then I dredge up some miscellaneous hardware from the junk drawer by my
tool box and harness up a pair of old ski boots to the cross-bar. Let me
tell you another thing right here. This could be the death of you. If
anyone can survive hanging upside down on one of these things, they ought
to be sainted, that's what. It was no fun at all.

So, the bottom line is I just can't fathom what all the fuss and hype
about cross-training is for, but I got a feeling it's just another fad
like all the rest. Remember the enormous rubber bands that you hooked
around all your extremities and stretched and pulled like mad to get
yourself into shape. That is, unless one of them broke whereupon it will
go zang-flap-a-dap-a-dap and slap you silly. Or what about that there
little lawn-mower wheel that has a stick through the hub with handles on
it. Only place you ever see it advertised is on late-night TV. Like
that's an audience who's big on fitness, right? The little wheel thing
can be a fun one to watch someone new try. First time with it they
usually go zinging straight forward and "whump!" smack their face on the
floor. Good for upper body fitness I guess, except for chins and noses.

Nope, cross-training just ain't the way to go for us back-of-the-packers.
If you want my opinion, I'll stick to my running, biking and swimming and
leave that other stuff to the so-called experts.

Jack Berkery

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