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Michele Gonzalez: The ‘Little’ Things Matter

Michele Gonzalez says doing cross-training goes a long way at keeping her body strong and healthy.

I feel strongest and healthiest during training and races when I put in the time to do the “little” things that go into marathon training. In my opinion, things like nutrition, recovery, strength, cross-training and core work don’t just add to a training cycle—they are the core of one. But finding the time or energy to do them is often what prevents them from getting done.

When I get knee-deep into marathon training and mileage and intensity starts to pick up, I am so quick to overlook the extras. I have the tendency to get so wrapped up in how many miles I’m running (and the belief that more miles automatically means I’m better prepared) that I minimize the other aspects of a successful training cycle.

During my last training cycle, I made an effort to focus on these things—and I can’t remember the last time I felt so strong so far into a marathon. My entire body felt strong—core, back, arms—not just my legs.

My goal is to try to do one cross-training or strength/core workout a day (I don’t do any on long run days). I generally focus on spinning, strength work, pilates, barre or core work.

I would love to go to the gym and take classes but my sons’ schedules, the gym class schedule and other constraints prevent me from doing so on a consistent basis. And so, I’ve developed my own routine with DVDs or at-home workouts that I can do either first thing in the morning, while the boys are napping or after they go to bed at night. It’s a great alternative and doesn’t give me the chance to make excuses or skip a workout.

My husband occasionally joins me at night for some of these workouts (mostly strength/core). We’ll do some exercises on our own and then do some partner-resistance ones. Having a training partner is a great way to not back out of a planned workout!

Typically, my week breaks down as follows (with my favorite DVDs for each):

— Spinning: 1x/week (nothing too intense—mostly easy pedaling)
— Pilates (1x/week): Abs Pilates Workout 
— Barre (1x/week): Xtend Barre: Lean and Chiseled
— Strength Training (2x/week)
— Core (2-4x/week): Jillian Michaels: 6 week Six-Pack (I do this DVD 1-2x/week)

Most of my workouts last less than 30 minutes (and all are under 45 minutes). Some days I will combine a short 20-minute core routine with a 25-minute strength workout.

You don’t have to do pilates or barre or spinning if they aren’t your thing—there are a ton of other activities that can help keep your body strong and healthy while you focus on training. The important thing is that you do something a couple of times a week to work those other muscles and help balance your body.

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit