Photo taken by Randall Levensaler

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

FIT-Uary Cocktail

For many runners, January is considered as break time, or a period where training is relatively light. The cold temps, shortage of light, and beautiful but heinous blankets of snow and ice don’t make it enticing to leave your house, or from under a warm blanket for that matter.

For me, January is one of the most important training months of the year. This is the month were I get to build a bigger engine, turn that V6 into a V8 J Since logging miles is a bit harder, this is the perfect time to change gears and strengthen the other parts of your body that don’t receive TLC during the prime running season.
Good times at the gym...obviously :)

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying stop running, just allow your legs a little break.

Running is hard on your body…literally. Every time your foot strikes the ground it absorbs your body weight x 3. Being blessed with sub-standard weather conditions forces “mandatory” time off from pounding, but gives us cross training opportunities that provide the same benefits but with less physical abuse.

My cross training cocktail consists of two parts running, one part swimming, one part skate skiing, topped off with bouldering as a garnish.

Running: Obviously you should still do some running…but don’t feel like it has to happen every day.

Swimming: I believe this is the best possible cross training exercise a runner can do. I rotate activities between swimming laps and beltless aqua jogging.  I get more work out of my lungs when I swim, but generally feel more taxed after aqua jogging two hours without a “floaty” belt. Also, if you are lucky enough to swim in some natural hot springs…DO IT!  The minerals and warm water will pay dividends.
Glenwood Hot Springs

Love me some laps :)

Skate skiing: I believe this is the closest winter sport comparable to running, but without the impact. It forces you to work different leg muscles (more inner and outer thigh), as well as engaging the upper body. My arms and shoulders are always a bit sore after a skate session.
Spring Gulch Nordic Trails

First tracks of the day!

Bouldering: This is my version of yoga. Bouldering forces my body to stretch into positions that are foreign. It also acts as a form of meditation. My focus is dialed, and my breathing is controlled. Besides that, bouldering will obviously help strengthen your entire body (especially core).
So, there you have it. With a mix of different sports you can build a bigger engine, and when it comes time to use it, you can expect it to work harder, last longer, and more powerful overall.