Cross Training

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life54 Comments


In the past few weeks I've been experiencing something that I'm guessing many a 40-something-year-old woman who gets a bit overzealous on the old exercise bandwagon has felt from time to time in her quest for greater fitness: pain.

Pain in one of my feet, more specifically. My feet pretty much serve as the base for most of the fitness choices I've been making. Nothing critical yet. No X-rays have been taken. But still, a pain in the side of my right foot when I do certain things.

Like the crazy fun dance moves of Zumba. Or the jumping jacks in the decidedly not crazy fun 30-Day Shred video. Even though I began incorporating those activities as part of an overall cross training program, they are presently on hold.

Enter my bike. 


I don't have a super fancy bike, but it works. Dan bought it for me for Christmas three or four years ago. It has a very nice cushy seat, and a brand-new cyclometer that tends to exaggerate the mileage a bit. Add in one dorky helmet, some sun screen, an iPod that I play on much quieter than running levels, and I've got a whole new thing I can do.

And it just so happens I live near a lovely little lake with a riding path. It took me 17 years to realize how nice it might be to actually take a bike ride around that lake but that's a late bloomer for you.

When I head out to take three laps around the lake, my foot feels as fresh as a daisy and I swear to you, I feel like Lance Armstrong. And in my new Nike shirt, I could even be mistaken for a real bike rider.


I am still working in three runs a week, mostly on the treadmill because I can focus on better foot placement and as long as I'm not going from side to side, there's no pain when I'm doing it. I'm reading Chi Running right now, on recommendation from several of you, and I'm really enjoying what author Danny Dreyer has to say. If it means I can keep running, and minimize pain and injuries from bad form, I'm in.

The cool thing to all of this, pain issues aside, do you know how good it feels to say, "Well, then… I'll just switch to riding my bike!"? It means so much because I am really craving this whole move more aspect of my plan. 

Exercise makes me feel good.

Go figure.

The older, chubbier me is impressed, to say the least.


Cathy ZielskeCross Training

54 Comments on “Cross Training”

  1. #1
    Rebecca McClintick

    Cathy…you go girl! You are looking great. I am so jealous of your motivation. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. #2
    Kathi Lamb

    Way to Go. What a difference in your pictures. You have done a great job in the eat less – move more area. Yes us 40+ gang do suffer from our injuries, but there is hope. Great way to work around it.

  3. #5
    patricia mouro

    I’ve got 42 years and over time I was fat, now try to get some exercise and I feel exhausted, do one, two days and quit, see your motivation and know that you can overcome them, is encouraging me to try again. …

  4. #6
    Lisa Dickinson

    of all the things i thought i might glean from you, the Great CZ, being inspired to hop on my bike was not one of them. But here i am, truly contemplating it. πŸ™‚

  5. #8

    Check out the book, “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, which (in part) talks about running barefoot or at least without the new style of running shoes with their extra cushioning, etc. which supposedly correct all our foot “faults.” As someone who has run for 20 years, I see a lot of logic in this argument. I have lately been running in plain old Keds, and my right knee no longer bothers me when I run. It’s worth checking out anyway – plus the book is a good read! In the meantime, bike riding is great and relaxing and that also helped my knee!

  6. #9

    Thanks for the link to Chi Running… I’m swimming and walking, and want to add back running. Last time I ran, my hip became quite sore…

    With all that is going on in the gulf, I’ve decided I want to use my bike to get around more in my small town. So, here’s to moving more!

  7. #10

    You rock, Cathy! I have had a similar pain problem in the right side of my foot – started when I was doing 30-day shred! That Jillian is pure evil! πŸ˜‰ My foot would go numb and then HURT until I stopped exercising and elevated it. I went to my doctor at Mayo because it wouldn’t quit bothering me. Turns out, my feet grew during pregnancy and my shoes were too small! I also needed to add custom orthodics for some plantar facsitus (sp?). So – check out your shoe size, consider different shoes and check out some customer orthotics. My doctor had me go with a more supportive New Balance shoe over Nike’s, . Those things together didn’t entirely cure my foot pains – but they are 95% better. Actually, 100% better as long as I stay away from Jillian.

  8. #11

    I’m 54 years old and nothing compares to gearing up and getting on my bike and riding for an hour. I did my first Century ride (100 miles in one day) the year I turned 50. I am by no means a fitness buff, but I love breathing hard and using muscles and climbing hills and that wonderful sense of power and freedom I get on my bike. My poor ex-running knees are happy with the bike. The only downside is the dogs that people in the country let roam free…

  9. #12
    Sue Althouse

    You go, girl! Great inspiration you are providing. I recently had some nasty foot pain, so I retreated my to elliptical for a couple of days, double-socked and kept my shoes on all the time. It did the trick. May your problem be as easy to fix.

  10. #13
    Elizabeth Carls

    Cross training is a necessity for any runner, you’ve got to give those feet a rest sometimes. And a bicycle is a great choice (so is swimming). I personally am deeply in love with my mostly crappy little bike.

    (I do have to say though, no ipod on a bike, it just isn’t safe.)

  11. #14
    may flaum

    I got – and use – my bike for this exact reason. I get to “go” somewhere outside gym and it gives me exercise while somewhat resting the problems I have in my leg if I do zumba or other more impact activities. Mixing it up is a good thing!

    Go CZ!

  12. #15

    I only run three times a week, because last time I tried to be all gung-ho and “look at me, I’m a runner” I messed up my foot with a nasty case of plantar fascitis. I also had that side of the foot pain you’re talking about. When I started trying to do the Shred I started to get inklings of that pain again. I do think it’s the side to side jumping around like a crazy woman moves that she makes you do. I will run for 30 minutes on my treadmill, but make me do jumping jacks and I want to throw my DVD remote at you. On the off days that I’m not running, I still use my treadmill because I don’t have any other equipment, so I do brisk walks with lots of incline. So far, so good. Be sure to stretch and ice that foot, though, it will heal alot quicker than if you just leave it be. Lots of trips to the podiatrist before I finally listened to him and it worked. Stretch those feet, ice them and try to wear some sort of supportive footwear even while you’re in the house. I have an old pair of Birks that i wear inside when my feet start to get achy.

    Sorry for the ramble, hope that foot heals up quick. Way to go for not letting an injury sideline you. You are a total athlete now! And by the way, you look fantastic!

  13. #16

    I second the “Born to Run” book suggestion. And then, after reading it, try the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. My husband and brother swear by them, and they’re pretty avid fitness guys. Hope it clears up soon, thanks for the inspiration!

  14. #19

    I can relate to the pain thing, I just picked up my first exercise related injury after turning 40 (yesterday!), but you’ve inspired me to try a different form of exercise rather than just give up, thank you!

  15. #20

    You have probably already been told about the possibility of your foot pain being plantar facitis. It is not a fun injury–not one to take lightly. Go and get new shoes, from a running store–not from a big box sporting goods store–their shoes are always on sale–because they are towards the end of their life span! I know it sounds crazy-how would shoes be old if they haven’t ever been worn–the material they are made from actually starts to harden-just because it is not because it is being used. The big box stores take the leftover shoes from the manufacturer and then put them on sale.

    Go to a running store that will custom select your shoes- which type of feet you have.

    Don’t take the foot pain lightly. Ice your feet three times every day, use ibuprofin for swelling-consider going to a podiatrist–look into a night sock(do a search, they really help your foot heal) Stretch your feet. Don’t wait to take care of it-it can get worse. Custom orthotics can be made by a physical therapist-they are also a good idea.

    I was derailed from my exercising because of this type of pain for two years.

    Good luck!

  16. #22

    Amanda, yes, I could. I actually am an ex-swimmer. Swam competitively in high school. I just need to figure out if i have the guts to don a swimsuit.

  17. #25

    I know, about the iPod. I really do keep it low, but i figure, ONLY because i’m doing a lake path and not a road path. If i do any road riding, i won’t wear the iPod.

    Still, duly noted and good advice!

  18. #27

    Thanks Rose! I think going to get it looked at might be the thing i should do next week. In fact, I will.

    I do have good running shoes, that I got fitted at a running specialty store. And i’m considering going to have it done again. : )

  19. #28

    One thing i’ve noticed, now after reading a handful of sites on plantar facitis, is that the pain is primarily in the heel. I’m not experiencing that. This is on the top-side, middle of my foot.

    Still want to have it checked out.

  20. #29

    Hi Cathy,
    Definitely get it check out. I am a ‘runner’ as well (more like plodder but that’s another story!). In February, I also suffered a foot injury. Mine was midfoot, top and lateral…some investigations were done. They decided it was a tendon injury/tear. The orthopedic guy suggested doing something called ‘dry needling’ (they essentially inject a sucrose/local anesthetic in the foot). In retrospect, it was the worst thing I could have done. It took 2 weeks before I could even wear shoes again it was so painful! It still hurts although I started running again because it’s killing me not to run.
    So my words of advice (bossy aren’t I)
    Get it chcked out (make sure it’s not a stress fracture).
    If it’s a tendon injury…leave it alone. It will get better on it’s own.
    Trust me.. I’m a doctor!
    BTW..I see triathlons in your future!!

  21. #30
    Sarah K

    I too am 44 years old and started Jazzercising (which is a blast btw) and at one point my feet started hurting exactly where you said. I bought some shoe inserts from the Dr. Scholls section at the grocery store…and they cured the problem. No more foot pain.
    I have been at Jazz for over a year and a half and go 5 times a week and still LOVE it!

  22. #31

    Cathy, you are looking GREAT!! You’re rockin’ this whole healthy lifestyle. πŸ™‚

  23. #32
    Chris A.

    Great going, Cathy! I love bike riding.

    When you aren’t exercising – wear Crocs (I know they are as ugly as sin, but they really do help with the foot pain). I started doing that because I got pain in my heel and the pain went away after I started wearing them (only around the house, though)!

  24. #33

    Hi Cathy,

    You’re rocking that bright shirt and looking mighty good – the transformation between those pictures is remarkable! Hope your foot is feeling better soon!

    I think I’ve mentioned before that I LOVE cycling… and that I hopped on my bike for the first time since using it to get to and from classes in college after having foot issues… from running. Sounds familiar, eh? I discovered that I absolutely ADORED the feeling of the wind in my hair and how much cool stuff I could see pedaling around town (and out of town… and into many other towns). And when it feels like it’s hellaciously hot outside during the peak of summer it turns out that it feels much cooler whizzing around on a bike.

    It makes me happy to know that you are out there riding around on your two wheels also!!

    And maybe there are a pair of VFF in your future??

    Here’s me in mine a while ago:

    I look forward to when I can get out there running in these again. Heck, I’ll settle for being able to walk in them soon!! LOL!

  25. #34

    hI KAthy, kudos to you girlfriend for all that you have been doing to make a healthy life style change. You should get your feet checked out – could possibly be plantar faschitis? michelle

  26. #37

    I’m laughing outloud at the Vibram comment…that would be an interesting blog post of you in your Five Fingers! πŸ™‚

    I just wanted to mention that you might want to think about putting orthotics in your shoes. I know you read RLAM and they talk about them too. I use SuperFeet and they have made an incredible difference. I’m not a professional so it’s just a suggestion…

    Off to check out Chi Running…since RLAM finished I’ve been in withdrawals looking for a new running book to read. I’ve heard that Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer is a good one too (one of the authors of RLAM suggested it) πŸ™‚ Happy Biking…

  27. #38


    I just got the biking bug last summer. The most fun I had on my bike was at the St. Paul bike tour in September. Delicious fruit and baked goods, as well as entertainment, at every rest-stop. This year the long course is 54 miles, I believe. I highly recommend it! I also did the Mlps bike tour–food and course not as much fun as St.Paul’s.

    Keep pedaling,

  28. #39

    I had some foot pain too when I worked out- Doc said it was Plantar Fasciitis. I ice my foot and take aleve and seem to be getting better.

  29. #40
    Christa Paustenbaugh

    Good for you Cathy and keep going!!!!
    The 30 Day Shred totally kicks my hiney every time. That Jillian can get in your head even when she’s not literally hovering over you!!
    You are looking great!

  30. #42

    I think it’s a great idea to diversify your workouts. I think it adds interest to your workouts and it’s great for your body to do different things. Good luck and enjoy!

  31. #44

    Hi Cathy

    I’m fond of zumba too. It’s almost unknown here in France. I try to do “a great job” every evening (it’s crazy because I hate workout, exercise….). I even listen zumba rythms in my car !
    Beto Perez is my new hero, just like you for scrapbooking and Tara for photography ;-))

  32. #45

    Running barefoot or with VibramFiveFingers is the only way to run without injuries. I’ve switched after dealing with plantar fascitis and hamstring issues.

    The jumping jacks in The Shred are tough on me for different reasons..lets just say that Kegels are another exercise I do regularly!

  33. #47
    Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl

    Hi! I’ve just randomly came across your blog at this post:

    And I must say this was such a brilliant idea and what’s more it was so brilliantly brought to life! Thanks for being so positive and thankful, I am always happy to coem across like-minded people! Having a thankful project of my own, I really do know and value the power of gratitude! Cheers to a fellow thankful person πŸ˜‰

  34. #48
    Nicole Brenna

    I have the same problem… I have seen the physical therapist about it. I dont even run and I have a problem. My results from having a really big arch in my foot. I flatten it when I walk causing weight placement in the wrong place. It comes and goes but the best thing for me is to have a specially made insole. I cant just wear any old insole because of the high high arch. Anyhow just thought I would share….

  35. #51

    You are inspiring, not just in weight but in hair! I had a crazy idea to grow it out for the last 2 years, after looking at old photos I realized I like short hair and it looks much better on me!
    I see you’ve been given advice on plantar fac. I developed this but it’s the associated with my arch and wearing cute-flats. very cute, but not good for my foot. Mine is tied into my super tight calves (the only freakin tight thing on me!) that pull on the plantar tissues and get inflamed.
    Anyway, I highly recommend “super feet” insoles. They come in lots of shapes, I do green for arch, and it’s amazing what they do even to a good pair of shoes!

  36. #52

    Cathy, I am your age, and I, too started full-fledged working out several months ago. After the first month, I had the same foot problem that you described! Arch support really has cured it. New Balance makes a couple “models” with superior arch support. Wear them everywhere! It was hard for me, b/c I’m a “take your shoes off when you come inside” momma, but it has made such a difference that I can now wear flip-flops with no pain…it just takes time to heal, but it will with good support. : )

  37. #53
    Rebecca Foxworth

    Oh, for goodness sake, woman. Get thee to a podiatrist! Find one that has all the new gadgetry…you want to know if they make orthotic inserts with old-fashioned foot molds (good) or by having you stand on a computerized whatchamacallit and make them all scientifically and such (great, great, great). INSIST that you find a podiatrist who makes full inserts (not ones that go halfway under the foot, but ALL the way under the foot) and then make sure your athletic shoes have a removeable insole. Remove the standard insole and replace with the full insert (gradually…these things HURT if you don’t increase by slow increments). Your feet, with proper support, should feel much better. So happy for your new inner athlete thing, and love that you are young of heart, mind, and body. Your feet, however, are old. Hate to be the one to break it to you. Go…get help for them. You’ll be so happy you did!

  38. #54
    Harriett Bolenbaugh

    It is fine and normal when there is pain involved when training yourself to be stronger, since the benefits and the pleasure it brings you will be totally worth it. Also, I hope your foot recovers soon, so you could have more fun living free like a bird! πŸ™‚

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