I was a long time runner up until I fractured a half dozen bones in my left foot in 2012 in a ridiculously freak accident. Up until then I'd ran a few marathons (Carrolton, Detroit twice, Boston, Chicago, Berlin) and loved the training. I could eat anything and as much as I wanted: protein, pasta...bring it on! You could always tell the runners who didn't put in the time and miles. They'd be the walkers starting about mile 18. Marathon running is like childbirth, you forget the pain. You forget the head games you play to get up early in the morning for the 18 mile run in the pouring rain because it's "on the schedule". The bleeding toenail from a pebble you kept ignoring. But I digress.
After the accident I HAD to find something that would give me the same head rush of a lifelong competitor. Fitness is part of my daily routine, like brushing my teeth. I knew it would be stupid to subject my foot to the marathon training road pounding (I'd wanted to finish my marathon career with Athens) so I did a triathlon. Swim, bike, run.
What I discovered was I really enjoyed the change from single focus running to cross training across the three disciplines. I still had a schedule I followed religiously and kept track of miles and times and read books and listened to podcast. I was A Runner who had to become A Swimmer and A Cyclist. Initially I was worried I wasn't spending enough time on each but what happened was a better wholistic workout. More of my body parts were getting used and it was like my legs said, "Thank goodness!" Along the way my fiercely-driven competitiveness quieted down and my workouts became something I looked forward to. It's changed my life. It's multi-tasking but not simultaneously so it all feeds at the same trough.
All the artsy things I do are visual cross training. As I drive to and from farmer's markets peddling my wares the colors of the morning are so different from the colors of the afternoon. I keep looking at a particular swath of trees as they've budded, flowered and leaf bloomed and wonder how I'll use that color morphosis. Maybe it'll be a Monet haystack series of quilts. Or maybe I'll paint the kitchen in the greens of springtime. It did make me buy four steps of thread color for future quilts!