Cross-training is important year-round for runners; however, it seems to be on the minds of runners a little more during winter months if you live in a cold climate. Maybe it is because there are fewer races to train for, maybe it’s the cold, or maybe you just want to change things up a bit. Whatever the reason there are tons of great options to explore to help supplement and benefit your running.
Honestly, anything you are doing that involves being active is awesome. However, we live in Utah and we also have so many other cool winter cross-training opportunities that most don’t have. You won’t find a better hill workout than skinning up a mountain on Alpine Touring skis, telemark skis, or a Splitboard.
If those last four terms sounded like a foreign language here is a little more info:
Alpine Touring skis:
A type of ski set-up with specific bindings and boots. The heel of the binding can be released while climbing up the mountain and then can be locked back down for decent, just like a traditional alpine ski.
Have you ever been out on the mountain and seen someone drop his or her knee to the ground to make a turn? Well that is telemarking. The binding and never locks the heel down.
There are several local races that take place in the Salt Lake area specifically for ski racing; one in particular is the Wasatch Powder Keg (website link). Although there is a lot more gear (translate to money) involved in this sport than running, it offers something fun and different during the winter months.
With backcountry travel there is risk involved. Making sure you have avalanche and snow knowledge is very important. Here is a helpful website to learn about snow conditions and also can point you in the right direction of avalanche courses: www.utahavalanchecenter.com
For those that prefer more of a linear plane, cross-country skiing is a great work out and Utah offers many areas specifically for cross-country skiers. The gear is also a little less expensive than a downhill set-up and you run a much lower risk of avalanche danger.
For more information: www.utahnordic.com
There are now many snowshoes on the market that are engineered to be sleeker and offer an experience geared to run. It is a great way to get out and experience the trails during winter with minimal financial investment.
Utah is also a huge cycling state. I love to ride my bike, when the weather is nice. When the temps start to drop and snow accumulates on the sides of roads I tend to retire my bike to my indoor trainer or hit up my gym for a spin class. Last winter I forced myself to get on my trainer twice a week, every week, and I ran my fastest trail half marathon that spring. I don’t think it was a coincidence. If you already own a bike, and have room, a trainer is a great option for at-home workouts. If you don’t have a bike or just like the atmosphere of the gym and an intense class led by an instructor than a spin class might be something that would interest you. Most gyms and recreation centers offer spin classes. (Picture of Cyclops trainer)
So get out there and remember the challenge to yourself….R-U-N?