Seasonal cross-training is just what it sounds like: Adding cross-training to a runner’s training regimen during a particular season. Most seasonal cross-trainers add winter sports to their training as a fitness-preserving way to get a physical and mental break from running. A noteworthy example is Libbie Hickman, a top American runner in the 1980s.
While attending Colorado State University, Hickman (then Libbie Johnson) was introduced to cross-country skiing, for which she quickly developed a passion that nearly rivaled her passion for running. Throughout her professional running career, Hickman returned to skis during the winter, at first just because she couldn’t resist, but later for the additional reason that she came to view this cross-training period as one of the most important and beneficial parts of her year-round training program.
Hickman would ski every day—often all day—two to three weeks per month for approximately two months each winter. All this skiing allowed her to maintain or even increase her basic cardiovascular fitness while giving her mind and body a badly needed break from running. By the time she returned to regular run training in late winter, she felt physically stronger and emotionally recharged, ready on all levels for the long stretch of hard training and high-stakes racing that lay ahead.
Every runner needs to indulge in some form of “off season” once or twice a year. However you choose to approach cross-training the rest of the year, consider being a seasonal cross-trainer during the winter or whenever your off season falls.