Cross Training Tips from Dane Rauschenberg

Please meet one of the most experienced runners around- Dane Rauschenberg!

Dane Rauschenberg made his mark on the running world as the man who ran 52 marathons in 52 consecutive weekends. As an extreme athlete who has also run a 202-mile relay solo and completed a 350-mile run up the coast of Oregon, he doesn’t just know running, he has explored it to the deepest reaches of its mental, physical and emotional boundaries.

Informational Cross Training Tips from Dane:

I am often asked how much, if any, cross-training I do in my normal routine. For the past few years, the answer was easy: slim to none. Looking over some old blog posts I see my idea of how cross-training fits into my life has evolved. So, I felt it was time to update them.
During my 52 Marathons in 52 weeks, I went to the gym a total of two times. The entire year. Mostly, I was deathly afraid of an overuse injury from the gym that I could not afford. As such, I felt it was best to avoid it altogether. Obviously, one can hurt themselves simply stepping off the curb my feeling was why added any unnecessary risk. To me, all a runner needed to do to be in running shape was to run.
Since that time, I have done multiple other events and different sorts of physical activity to stay in shape. But mostly, when I want to exercise, I go for a run. It is just so damn easy and convenient. Put on the shoes and go. Sure, I do some trail running here and there (which to some extent is a type of cross-training) but other sports and activities have been pushed to the backburner. For a few years, I was more or less making a living on being a runner, in a variety of different ways. When your paycheck relies on your legs, you cannot go will-nilly repelling down a cliff or go paragliding on a whim without some trepidation.
However, with a slightly different lifestyle not as reliant on hitting the finish line, I have learned about balance. Without a doubt there is room in a runner’s life for a bit of cross-training, regardless of your goals and speed.
I have been quoted as saying that cross-training doesn’t really help you become a better runner – except for all the ways it does. What I mean by that is any sort of exercise is going to help your body if done in the right way. Period. But the biggest problem with most runners is that they cannot simply turn their running off. From injuries they should not run through to races that should fall in the “Did Not Finish” category, so they can live to run better down the road, runners like to run. Cross-training (whatever form it is) allows you to get that exercise jones while actually taking a break from running.
In the past few years I have done triathlons, aquathons, duathlons, adventure races, ultra marathons, stage runs and just about everything else in between. In many of those events, I have worn ICESPIKE in what some would consider unconventional ways (such as the Sand Box Indoor Trail Marathon.) However, I still feel best when I go for a run. This tells me I love running. Duh. But it also tells me that mixing in different disciplines is good as well. The question to me is not whether cross-training actually helps my running, but does the time off from running help my running, regardless of what I am doing. There I think the resounding answer is yes.
So hitting the gym every once in a while is very important for runners. To work on legs. Seriously. Runners think leg work is the last thing they need to do. However, through much experience in this area, I have learned the hard way that neglecting all the muscles in your legs that running does not necessarily hit can make running much more difficult down the road.
The proliferation of adventure racing and crossfit (and mud run and color blast and juggling hop scotch, etc.) has brought up a different breed of runner. These runners are incorporating different activities into their running schedule. I am not going to say they are having more fun than those who simply run because I do not agree with that. But they are adding variety which is a good thing.
Recently I have begun hitting the heavy bag again after more than few years off. I boxed amateur for about a year with a 1-1 record. I am not currently fighting anyone but am simply smack a bag of sand around. Just 15 or so minutes broken into two-minute rounds has left me sweaty and exhausted. But on days when I really needed a break but wanted some exercise, this allowed me to get that fix without overworking my legs. Given what I have put them through both intentionally and not so much in the past few years, they deserve this break.
Basically, as with all advice I give about running, it is given in the hopes that what I have learned from my failures and success can keep others from having to do the same thing. I want you and everyone else to be running healthily and happily for as long as you can. I love the act and sport of running so much I want to make sure you can enjoy it as much as possible.
So in other words, if you love running and want to do so for a very long period of time, learn to not run every once in a while.

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