Tuesday 20 March 2018

Gerry Duffy: Mix up your training with a new sport

On your bike: variety is the spice of life, so why not mix up your exercise routines.
On your bike: variety is the spice of life, so why not mix up your exercise routines.

Gerry Duffy

Beginning a column with an oft used proverb or saying is regularly employed. And hence it shall be this week. More of this saying later, but for now here it is. 'Variety is the spice of life'.

Don't tell the editor but I sailed quite close to the deadline for this week's article. My final excuse was an early morning bike ride, from which I have just returned. My reason for that cycle is at the core of this week's theme.

Readership surveys in the past two years highlighted the wide variety of those who read FIT Magazine each week. Swimmers, cyclists, runners and walkers visit newsagents every Monday for a weekly dose of FIT in all its forms.

It doesn't stop there: we also have show-jumpers, sailors, gymnasts, kickboxers, skiers, basketball players, racket players, mountaineers. No doubt I have omitted some pursuits, but there are just too many to mention.

My link to that opening saying about 'variety' is an encouragement to mix up your sports on occasion. For my own ultra-running ambition this year, I am now immersed in my peak training period.

This past weekend, some elevated training demands meant I became quite sore. Earlier today, I wanted to run but I had to listen to my body. My legs refused. Still, I wanted exercise endorphins, so what to do?

A moment later, it came to me. Why not cycle for an hour instead? It would get me moving and, if I stuck to a leisurely pace, its non-weight bearing demands would not hinder recovery.

In previous years, I have had a love affair with cycling as intimate as the relationship that Imelda Marcos once had with shoes. Not this year though. I had to dust off a few cobwebs from it as I took it from the garage.

An hour later, I was back home, buzzing from the activity. It ticked the box in satisfying my exercise requirement and took little or nothing from my legs.

And that's my message. Why do we confine ourselves to one sport? Why not spice up your activity by doing something different or, better still, trying something new. In 2004, an introduction to triathlon changed my life. By being open to new ideas, I was gifted something very special.

Of course, we might have a passion for a particular activity, and that's fine. But why not mix it up every so often. If you swim, why not jump on a trampoline? If you cycle, why not jog or run. I regularly go for long walks with my partner. It's not my core activity but I understand its benefits.

This strategy takes me out of a comfort zone in some ways by opening my mind and sometimes it offers landscapes that running doesn't. Before 2009, I rarely walked as a pursuit. Now I absolutely love it.

You know, when you think about it, this can work in other aspects of life too.

As I write, I have already been gifted a Monday morning activity that I haven't experienced in quite some time. As a result, I feel great and I got an exercise routine in. It just wasn't the one I was expecting when I woke up.

Variety is indeed the spice of life.

Twitter: @32marathons

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