Randy: I've only done the one marathon so far, and finished in 2:49. Modest? Well, I think I bored everyone at work to tears with talking about the race during the week after, so I've tried to shut up since then.
I've got a couple of reasons for cross-training.
First, to reduce injury potential, since I feel like most people (myself included) will have intermittent injuries as "daily" runners, and then they are on the sidelines. So it's good to have alternatives.
Second, my main "hobby" is cycling -- both bike commuting and cycling vacations. (but I seem to be better at running)
Third, I get interested in other things and want to try them out, like weight training. (and maybe build a little muscle too)
What I did for the marathon was to cross train mainly on indoor machines. This was partially due to wintertime, and also I could focus more on effort level.
I generally did one session a week on a rowing machine (Concept 2), about 45 minutes medium-hard. Then one session on a stationary bike (the one with a fan for a front wheel), 40-60 minutes pretty hard, at or slightly above anaerobic threshold. Then one or two sessions of weights. And if I wasn't too tired, possibly one more very easy session on the bike. This was in addition to two runs per week -- a midweek run alternating between hills and mile repeats, and a weekend run alternating between ~10 mi tempo and easy long run.
Well, looking back, that doesn't sound like too much fun. I was pretty focused on the marathon goal from December through March. Since then, I've been doing much more cycling outdoors, and I've kept the running at 2 days per week. (in previous years, I only ran once every 5 days) So far, things are working out well, and I feel like I could do another marathon with a few months' notice. In fact, I might just try Boston in '05.
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