So it’s officially summer time and we are feeling the warmth of different life
rhythms. It’s time for vacation, World Cup soccer, adventuring and time in the sun.
Many people are taking this time over the summer to escape the indoors and get
back to the outdoor activities they love. But this poses an interesting question for us
endurance athletes: should we spend our time on the usual exercise pursuits or
expand out into something new? For those of us who are marathoners, should we
continue to devote exclusive energy to running and training?
The summer allows us some luxuries that winter does not – in that we are now
having more hours of daylight and time to be with friends and family outside! This is
a great opportunity for us to try a new athletic pursuit or to try an activity we
haven’t before. For example, maybe you use this summer to play more basketball
with your kids. Or maybe you want to pick up disc golf or kayaking. The summer
allows for these different pursuits – but are they wise in regards to our ultimate
goals for running or triathlon?
The research would tend to indicate, yes! By utilizing multiple sports or exercise
modalities, you are actually making yourself a more well-rounded athlete. By
playing basketball with your kids you are building lateral strength and also
plyometric tolerance. By kayaking you are building upper body strength which
endurance athletes are often notoriously lacking. This will carry over to your
running or training when you get back into the groove in the fall, and you will thank
yourself for it. These sports are just examples of the benefits you can hope to obtain
from getting outside of your comfort zone.
In fact, when studies examine young athletes that specialize early and do not play
multiple sports, they show a definite decline in performance for the future. (Side
note – your kids should be playing multiple sports year-round to be a better
athlete). Sure, we are no longer kids trying to specialize in baseball and play in the
majors, but these benefits for multiple sport participation can be extended to us as
well. Exercising in different ways is like adding money into your body’s piggy bank.
The more you add, the more resilient you are to injury down the line.
In summary, get out and try something new this summer. Take the pressure off of
yourself to strictly adhere to your training regimen. Who knows, you may actually
find a new passion!
Here’s to summer!