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Cross-Train Your Life – Guest Post by Lori Franklin



Today’s guest post is by Lori Franklin from the blog Janebenimble. It gave me goose bumps when I read it.  To be honest, I got a little choked up.  And then I said, “Oh, hell yeah.” Lori has been dealt a bad hand and is spitting in the face of all her obstacles.  I love it.  I love her and her attitude.  You will too.

Cross-Train Your Life, by Lori Franklin,

  • Pulled hamstring tripping over a rock—8 months of no running
  • Strained hip flexor racing the California 1/2 Ironman Triathlon—6 weeks of no biking
  • Sore shoulder swimming the 3-mile Rough Water Swim in the Pacific—1 month no swimming
  • Strained hip flexor, again, cycling to work ~55 miles round trip—stuck in traffic by car (blegh…)
  • Torn Achilles tendon hiking the Eastern Sierras—9 months of no running
  • Bicycle accident with a concussion—no work for two days (not all that bad…)
  • Torn cartilage in knee—no walking/hiking downhill for 6 months

Having been a marathon runner and road cyclist for many years I often trained as often as possible before/after work, during lunch breaks, and during weekends. Along the way, I’ve experienced the full range of common sports-related injuries. In fact, the reason I initially learned to swim, at age 30, was so that I could maintain my fitness while I was sitting out a hamstring injury.

Learning to swim later came in handy so that I could participate, and later coach men and women, in the sport of triathlon. And, swimming is probably a good thing to know since I live by the ocean and, as the glaciers melt, I have a strong possibility of waking up one morning under water.

Cross-Training and Carryover

Cross-training taught me this: the more I can learn about participating in various sports, the more fun and peace I will experience if my options become limited.

Cross-training started to seep into other parts of my life. I learned a few languages, I picked up HTML and graphic design, I became certified in massage therapy and personal training, I finished my Ph.D., I studied world religions, I became a more compassionate person, I learned to make home-made hummus.

When I felt backed into a corner at my job, I left to start a new career doing something that I had cross-trained for along the way. Later, when I tore two disks in my low back in a bicycle accident and could no longer meet the physical demands of my job, I adjusted again and became a full-time writer.

Looking back, I probably wasn’t giving my body enough time to recover in between races. But, then again, I was having a blast. I wouldn’t have done anything differently.

Plus, I didn’t have time to kill.

Multiple Sclerosis…Big Time

Neurologists diagnosed my Multiple Sclerosis in my early 20s. I lost my vision and ability to walk for a spell, among a few other unpleasantries off and on, but regained all function by the time I hit 29. Statistical probability told me there was a strong likelihood that in about 5 years my MS would transition from relapsing-remitting MS to a form called secondary-progressive MS, characterized by slow debilitation over time. But I didn’t care, remission was all I could think about, so I pulled out all the stops, including a team cycling race from Oceanside, CA to Flagstaff, AZ (start to finish in ~26 hours).

The doctor’s predictions turned out to be fairly accurate and I came out of remission last year at age 38. I have also been ‘upgraded’ to SPMS. Damn! But, hey, I’ve cross-trained my whole life and, now, I see this as a new challenge. I can see a path around this thing.

As Josh so awesomely demonstrates, cross-training in life is key. In part, Josh uses a strong man approach combined with guest post marathons to deal with Tourette’s Syndrome. I believe I can re-wire my brain and circumvent the damage by writing and doing as much as possible to stimulate my brain, including the engagement of neuro-muscular connections, so I can get back on my road bike. I also want to hone my parkour skills

Screw SPMS! It doesn’t know whom it’s dealing with!

Granted, some days I must curl up on my bed and that’s about the extent of my day. I won’t sugarcoat. The fatigue, dizziness, balance problems and confusion are real—I’d rather run a marathon or swim 3 miles any day than deal with this. But cross-training my brain and body is ingrained in me and it is going to save my life.

I encourage everyone to continue adding to his or her toolbox by cross-training in all walks of life—even just a few minutes here and there. Cross-training may someday save your life, too.

Learn what you love. Love what you learn. Pass it on.

Don’t waste a second. Create your day!

About the Author:

Lori is the author of JaneBeNimble.com, a blog about striving for an agile body and mind. Jane Be Nimble is a 100% MS-free zone. The author wishes to thank Josh for letting her speak her mind at World’s Strongest Librarian. While Lori does not blog about MS, her email is wide open for personal correspondence about MS, or training, or how to make home-made hummus: lori [at] janebenimble [dot] com.

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  • Sami - Life, Laughs & Lemmings October 1, 2009, 1:51 am

    Lori, what can I say? You are one courageous and inspirational human being and a kick arse example of someone living like they mean it. No excuses comes to mind. If you can have the attitude and life you do, there’s no excuse for the rest of us. MS better watch out!

    Love the concept of cross training your life. Apart from it helping from a survival point of view, it’s also fun. What’s life if you’re not experiencing all it has to offer.

    Josh, thanks for having Lori here. A totally inspirational post.

  • Allison Reynolds October 1, 2009, 3:39 am

    Totally with you and have written on my blog about retraining my brain. It CAN be done. I am 43 and was diagnosed with MS 10 years ago in January (but knew something was wrong since my teens).

    With every setback I just keep working what I have. I must admit though I am terribly unfit and should look to that as well as my brain… err yes ahem. I too used to be an athlete and long distance runner in my youth, I just need to figure out how to exercise more in aircondintioning (yes I know… stop making excuses Allison!)

    And yes, I don’t often talk or write about MS itself. Write well, be well!

    Great post 🙂

  • Gordie Rogers October 1, 2009, 5:15 am

    The best guest post on WSL to date! Very inspiring. Lori, you have taught me so much in the last few minutes about life and hope. Thank you so much!

  • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) October 1, 2009, 6:57 am


    I have always loved the idea of a Renaissance man. I avoid a narrow focus or expertise because I think defining one’s self as knowing about or able to do one thing as limiting. Your cross training could be the new model for the truly well rounded person.

    Your Renaissance woman if there ever was one.

    você fala o Português… o Espanol?

  • Positively Present October 1, 2009, 7:08 am

    Great guest post, Lori! 🙂

  • Jay Schryer October 1, 2009, 9:12 am

    Cross-train your life. What a lovely way to express that idea! Like Casry said, I love the idea of being a renaissance man…gaining knowledge and expertise in a wide variety of areas.

    Lori, you certainly have accomplished that, and you continue to do so every day. I really, seriously believe that there’s nothing you can’t do…and I still don’t buy the dancing excuse!! 🙂

  • Beth L. Gainer October 1, 2009, 10:18 am


    I really needed to hear this. I’m a breast cancer survivor who has not really recovered from major surgery almost three years ago. Prior to my diagnosis, I was fit and what I deemed healthy.

    I used to be a jogger, but it’s painful to do this. Luckily, like you, I cross trained and can swim, but I get really frustrated at myself whenever I try a feeble attempt at jogging. Maybe I need to accept the fact that I can no longer be a jogger, but a walker and swimmer only.

    I love your posting and plan on subscribing. Thank you for an eloquent piece of work and your courage in sharing your story.

  • Lori | Jane Be Nimble October 1, 2009, 11:04 am

    You are a shining example of how to lead a kick arse life! Hearing the words, “courageous and inspirational,” from you is a huge compliment. Thank you!

    That’s a good point: cross-training your life isn’t just for saving it. It can also make your life incredibly fun and full of enjoyment. I have no regrets! I feel one of my last missions in life is only to spread the cross-train-your-kick-arse-life word! 😉
    Great to see you here at WSL today.

    Hey, soul sister! Great to see you here today! Nice to meet you!

    You have a great attitude and are totally on track with doing your best with what you have. Awesome! This may have not come across it my post, but in the chance that I can’t be as active as I once was and my new world order sticks (stupid SPMS!!), I will continue to move forward. I can still write! I can still cook! I can still learn new things! I may have lost mental speed and physical agility/endurance, but I haven’t lost intelligence – or some may argue that… (ha) 😉
    Adventures await in other walks of life.

    Have you tried swimming in a pool to keep you cool?
    Stay in touch, be well, and thanks for your kind words here.

    Awww…you’re making me blush. Thank you!
    I formerly taught spin classes (indoor cycling) and would often coach folks about not wasting time, not a minute to spare. Go get what you want in life. Don’t take, “No,” for an answer. No one in my classes knew I had MS back then and I don’t think they took me seriously (or maybe they did?). It was fun either way.

    I’m glad that I was able to inspire you today, Gordie, and I hope one day my words will help you in some way or another.

    Thanks for adding to the conversation. You rock! 8)

    Cheers to Renaissance Men! You’re talking my language.
    I understand there may be people out there who enjoy their life’s focus, and that’s all good. But, as you’ve pointed out about yourself, I wasn’t happy being limited so I expanded my toolbox, which later came in really handy.

    That’s is such a huge compliment, Casey, to be called a Renaissance Woman – you made my day! Cheers!

    P.S. I haven’t made it to Portugues or Espanol yet, but I recently bought some books and audio to get going with Espanol. Wish me luck! 🙂

    Dani (Positively Present),
    Hey, nice to see you here today! Thanks for the kudos. The post was a bit more difficult to write than I thought it would be, but I’m really glad I did. I’m looking forward to interacting with you more often. 😉

    Hey coolness! It is great to see you over here at WSL. Thank you for your kind words, they’re really sweet.

    And you are a Renaissance Man. (I love Casey’s mention of the Renaissance Man – BTW.) I love how you wrap music and lyrics into everyday life, amongst the other 12,000 things you do uniquely well. You’re the man!

    Hey, about the dancing thing, like I’ve said before – I will rip it and shuck it down to the cob, but I wouldn’t want to expose anyone to it intentionally! You’re funny.

    Create a great day! 😛

  • Gayze October 1, 2009, 11:13 am

    Lori, you’re an awesome human being and an inspiration. And I had a whole long, drawn out thing to write here, but it all can be summed up in two words.

    Thank you.

  • Lori | Jane Be Nimble October 1, 2009, 11:27 am

    First, thumbs up for kicking breast cancer’s butt! Awesome on that count. I’m really sorry you had to go through it, but you now have some kick-butt coping skills to usher you through life.

    Second, I was a die-hard runner, big time. You know, the kind that gets grumpy when I couldn’t fit in a run. But, oddly enough, it was my cycling injury that screwed up my ability to run before my MS did. So I swam and road biked like hell.

    That said, pour yourself into that pool! Is there a Masters’ Swim group you can join? I got in the best shape ever by adding pool workouts – seriously! I bet if you take your swimming to the next level, you can recreate the running-endorphins feeling.

    I know you can! If you can kick breast cancer, you can do anything! And…thanks for commenting here. Your words mean a lot to me. Thank you!

  • Lori | Jane Be Nimble October 1, 2009, 11:53 am

    Wow, your words really mean a lot, especially coming from a Reiki healer. I loved studying Reiki and have a feeling I should get back to that sooner rather than later.

    Thank you for your kindness. I really appreciate it!

    I feel there is a deeper reason we’ve crossed paths here today, I’m not sure what it is, but I know it will be sweet when we discover it!

  • Lori | Jane Be Nimble October 1, 2009, 11:58 am

    You and your readers are so awesome! Thank you for letting me “out” myself here at WSL.

    Somehow, I knew you’d get my drift. 😉

    You are all that is good with this world. Thanks for giving me hope and inspiring me when things get rough – as they certainly do at times. Thumbs up!


  • Gayze October 1, 2009, 12:32 pm

    Lori, those “deeper reasons” are always such fun to discover! I’m honored! 🙂

  • Lance October 1, 2009, 12:32 pm

    What an awesome guest you have here today!

    Your story is one filled with inspiration, and one that gives me so much hope in what is possible! You are an amazing woman, and reading here gives me even more insight into just how true that is!

    Keep on keeping on…keep on being “you”…keep on living life as you so beautifully do…

    • Josh Hanagarne October 1, 2009, 1:26 pm

      @Lance, glad you liked it. I knew you would.

      @Lori: It’s a great group of readers, absolutely. This is turning into a pretty cool community.

      @Beth: If you liked this post, you’ll like everything Lori writes on her blog. It’s all fantastic.

  • Tim October 1, 2009, 1:02 pm


    Thank you for this great post…you are an amazing, courageous person with an awesomely- positive attitude! I can already see you mastering the parkour skills that you are building (I really dig that video, too).

    I also love the cross-training philosophy…and believe it is the key to a lot of success for people. Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring all of us.

  • Lori October 1, 2009, 1:43 pm

    I appreciate what you said here. I know it comes from a place of understanding! Thanks for taking me with you out there when you’re cycling, running, and swimming!
    Mmmm, mmm good!

    You’re not taking things for granted and are living large, and I LOVE that! Keep going, Lance, I’m behind you all the way! 🙂

    When I first heard of parkour (free running), I fell in love with it! I think the first time I saw it was at the beginning of a the most recent Bond movie (?).

    I’m working on my balance a lot right now using a Bosu ball (and other things). I’m really hoping to reconnect those wires soon I can get closer to the real thing! 🙂 Your vote of support really means a lot – thank you!

    From what I know of you, Tim, you have the chops to take yourself wherever you want to go in life. Go for it! Go with your gut and you won’t go wrong!

  • Beth L. Gainer October 1, 2009, 1:45 pm

    Hey Josh,

    I’ve already subscribed and am an avid fan of Lori’s already!! Thanks for giving her a voice in your blog.

  • Mary007 October 1, 2009, 2:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing yourself with us through this blog. You’re a strong, beautiful, admired, courageous, inspirational woman and I know you will overcome whatever challenges you’re faced with.

  • Shane October 1, 2009, 2:23 pm

    I remember Fabrizio Quattrocchi, the Italian hostage of the Taliban in Afghanistan yelling, “I’ll show you how an Italian dies,” as he rips off his hood in defiance of the bastards that surrounded him and the rifle that pointed to his head. That was a show of strength I’ll never forget.

    I’ll put this post right next to that memory for future reference.

  • Craig October 1, 2009, 5:12 pm

    Lori, killer post! You rock harder than I thought before!

    The coolest thing is that you’ve basically learned that you are not the body and therefore won’t be limited by it. Awesome, awesome stuff. I have to commend and thank you for what you have accomplished. A true inspiration.

  • Lori | Jane Be Nimble October 1, 2009, 5:50 pm

    Hi Mary! Wow, if the double-oh 7 in your name has anything to do with your prowess, how awesome is that??!!! You’re a lovely woman.

    I’m not sure what to say, but, wow. Thank you! I really appreciate you taking the time to be here with me today.

    I’m not sure I’m the ranks of Fabrizio Quattrocchi (but wow, thanks!); what a brazen show of defiance and conviction! I LOVE IT! Thanks for sharing that with me. Having been in the Army during Operation Desert Storm (stationed near the Kuwaiti border), what you shared here means more than I can put into words.

    You rock!! 8) And, thank you for being you. Don’t go changin’!

    Hey Craig! That is sooo awesome! I love that you said I rock hard. Oh man, huge compliment! Thank you!

    And, I have to say it: I takes one to know one!

    I must admit that it has been a long road and I didn’t reach where I am today without a lot of anger and misplaced emotion. And, really, who doesn’t face challenges? Mine just happen to be related to my health. I could argue that my situation is a heck of a lot easier to deal with than a host of others (spousal abuse? malnutrition? eating disorders? gang violence? …). In the end it is all the same. And how each person deals with it is up to that individual.

    For me, it’s just easier to rock on and live with what I still am able to do. Sorry for the long comment, but you hit upon an important point.

    You are a very smart man. And, you had me at hello (in your guest post here at WSL). 😉

  • Craig October 1, 2009, 6:38 pm

    “I must admit that it has been a long road and I didn’t reach where I am today without a lot of anger and misplaced emotion. And, really, who doesn’t face challenges?”

    Exactly. No one coasts through life pain-free. And zero pain/zero emotion is an unrealistic goal no matter who you are.

    The fact is we all have a choice. We can choose to stop the car when we come up on a speed bump, turn off the ignition, and say “Well I guess that’s as far as I can go.” Or we can choose to drive right over it. Sure, we’ll feel something unpleasant in the process but that’s only temporary.

    Pain, emotions, physical setbacks, it’s all part of the human condition. There are those who let it beat them, and then there are those who cut through it (like you!).

    Once again, because you deserve it: AWESOME. 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne October 1, 2009, 6:43 pm

      @Craig: I heard someone say once that “pain gives you perspective. It’s nothing to be afraid of.” Easier said than done, sure, but I think it makes sense. Zero pain/zero emotion doesn’t sound like much of a life.

      @Shane: I’m going to look up Fabrizio. That’s a pretty striking image.

  • Lori | Jane Be Nimble October 1, 2009, 7:41 pm

    Thanks again for hosting me at your site today. I had a blast and learned a lot of awesome things from your readers.

    You are a class act and I appreciate you!
    Thumbs up and onward ho…

    • Josh Hanagarne October 1, 2009, 8:22 pm

      Lori, you’re welcome. You’ll be happy to know this day brought in the second-highest traffic I’ve ever had. You’re just that good.

  • Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl October 2, 2009, 12:14 am

    Wow. What a post. What a lady!

    This is very inspiring and as I read about your twenties, it reminded me of my own. Gosh, I’ve come such a long way since then but the pain is still so vivid, even now.

    I commend you for living each day as it may come!

    And thanks to Josh for having you over! 🙂


  • Pete | The Tango Notebook October 2, 2009, 7:52 am

    My first attempt at Parkour was at age 5 at Mattress Discounters. Actually, I didn’t know what it was, but I couldn’t help but climb up a stack of mattresses and jump off the top.

    I broke my arm.

    The only cross-training I was doing those days was pre-kindergarten and playing outside.

    Loved the post!

  • Lori | Jane Be Nimble October 2, 2009, 1:22 pm

    Thank you for support and agreement about living one day at a time. I commend you!

    From your words here, it sounds like you’ve also come a long way. I hope that, over time, the pain you speak of beings to fade and what seems vivid now will pale in comparison to the new journeys of the mind you are creating. You go, girl! 🙂
    ~smiles right back to you~

    Such a funny story!! Holy Mattress Skydiver, Batman! Way to live loudly! And, heck yeah, playing outside is a GREAT way to cross-train! (Sorry about that broken arm; living loudly sometimes comes with a few injuries here and there, I understand that loud and clear.)

    I can remember swinging from monkey bars at the play ground and doing “cherry drops” (hanging upside-down then swinging off, somehow landing on my feet…well, usually, anyway).

    Thanks for adding to the conversation, I’m happy you enjoyed the post. Enjoy your weekend! 🙂

  • Hilary April 8, 2010, 1:33 am

    Hi Josh and Lori .. such an amazing post – so important for us all to learn – and the tower of strength to learn and grow – giving you opportunities for your future ..

    Blessings to you both – hugs from Hilary

  • Sue April 8, 2010, 5:10 am

    You are an inspiration, Lori. I believe that WE CAN rewire our brains. Thanks to Josh, I found you. I don’t have MS, I am my mom with Dementia’s care giver; I use the same principles with my aging mom and she appears to be getting better.

    Have you heard of Dr. Perlmutter, the Renegade Neurologist?

    I will now visit your blog … thanks to Josh, the World’s Strongest Librarian!