Three activities to remain active while giving your body a break from pounding the pavement
You’ve spent months preparing for the Austin Marathon or half marathon. Early bedtimes turned into early morning runs. Saturday morning long run became progressively longer. Perhaps you’ve gone through a pair of running shoes or two, which means you’ve logged several hundred miles while preparing for 26.2 or 13.1 miles. This could be your first training cycle or it could be your 20th training cycle. Either way, the winter running season is drawing to a close. Below are three inexpensive physical activities you should try so you can remain active and give your ligaments and joints a break. You can still get in a run or two during the week, but switch it up to work your body differently. Watch out, it just might make you a better runner!
Swimming – Hop in the pool! The activity most call the complete workout, swimming uses all the muscles in the body, builds strength and endurance, and has minimal impact on ligaments and joints. Take a couple of swim classes at your local Y to remain active and learn about form, technique, and breathing to prevent common swimming injuries. Keep burning calories and strengthen your cardiovascular system with a couple of swims a week. Runners of all skill levels also use the pool to stay in shape while injured and recover from injury.
- Cycling – Cycling has many similarities to running: works your lower body, strengthens leg muscles, keeps you in shape, and builds the endurance of your cardiovascular system. How cycling is different than running: it has an extremely lower impact on ligaments, joints, and bones (like swimming). You don’t need to own an expensive bike to begin cycling and remain active. Google “spin class” to find a local gym or club offering spin classes in your area. Maybe a friend of yours is selling their bike and you begin commuting to work. Perhaps you can borrow your neighbor’s bike to visit some trails. At the very least, get a bicycle sharing membership (if your city offers one) and explore your surroundings! Pro tip: get a helmet!
- Rowing – Much like cycling, you don’t need your own boat, vessel, shell, or kayak to begin rowing. Whether done as a team in open water or solo at your local gym’s concept2 model d rowing machine, this activity will increase your heart rate, expand your lung capacity, and… you guessed it… decrease the overall stress you’ve put on your body the last few months while running. This is very similar to cycling in that it doesn’t have to be strictly a workout, you can rent kayaks and canoes and explore your city’s waterways with friends, all while getting in a workout!
Give one of these a try, or all three! Or alternatively, check out somewhere like PYC because the idea of playing tennis might excite you more than any of those. Whatever you do, don’t completely give up running, just give up pounding the pavement as hard as you have been. Swimming, cycling, and rowing will give you the results you’re looking for, whether that’s staying in shape, reducing stress, or being able to eat the foods you love. Much like running, find what works best for you, create a schedule, and include friends. Before you know it, running season will return and you’ll venture back the roads. But this time will be different, you’ll have fewer miles on your legs and you’ll still be in great shape.
Cover photo courtesy of Austin Tri Club (they have many helpful swimming and cycling resources).