The most important thing I learned is that I will always love running more than anything else. I am a runner at heart. I'd prefer a road race over a triathlon any day of the week, but there was something a little bit fun and definitely challenging in training for a multisport event.
And all the cross-training just might make me a better runner.
This winter and spring, I felt like I was in some of the best shape of my life because I was mixing things up with my training so much. I know with running there are plenty of times I get lazy about cross-training and just opt to run instead, which leads to muscle imbalance and a very one dimensional kind of fitness.
But with tri training, I was pushing myself on the bike and in the pool and using muscles that I don't normally use in my run training.
Not only was it a great way to mix things up mentally to prevent burnout, but it was awesome physically. All of a sudden, I had these new shoulder and back muscles springing up from swimming and I could feel new muscles in my legs forming that would help prevent running injuries.
And all the cross-training I was doing, was paying off hugely for me in my running. This spring, I set some huge new PRs.
I finally broke two hours in the half marathon, a goal I have been chasing for years.
Wore that medal all day
And then a few weeks later, I shaved an entire minute off my 5K PR.
Running just felt easier.
No matter how much running I would do, I don't think I would have seen such great successes in my racing this spring without all the cross-training I was doing.
Of course, now that tri season is over for me, I've totally fallen off the cross-training band wagon. I haven't ridden my bike in at least a month and I haven't been in the pool in just about that long.
But with training ramping up soon for MCM, I'm making it a goal to work cross-training back into my plan. I saw first hand just how much cross-training improves my running, and I want to kick butt at MCM this year.
So while I don't see myself ever turning into a full-fledged triathlete, I may still sign up for sprint tris here and there to keep myself motivated to cross train. If I learned nothing else from my first triathlon season, it's that mixing things up drastically improves my running.
And that's reason enough for me to stick with it.