Cross-training…fun or fitness?

img_1367This weekend, I took my family whitewater rafting on the Gorge Run, a 14-mile Class 3 section on the South Fork of the American River. It was the first time for my wife and kids. We took our Japanese exchange student who had just arrived a week earlier. Whitewater rafting is non-existent in Japan, so this was going to be a thrill ride for her. Good thing dad is fluent in Japanese–she speaks very little English. As it turns out, she speaks very little of anything. 

I got up at 4:30 am. Sat. so I could get in a long run along the American River, nearly four months after completing the American River 50, my first 50-ml. ultra. I felt an odd sort of responsibility to pay my respects to the river. I ran a 14-ml. section of the levee with an 8-ml. tempo in the middle, starting at the drawbridge down the street from the State Capitol building in Sacramento.

It turned out to be a perfect day on the river. Temperatures in the high 90s, a breeze blowing up river, and frequent swimming. I even got dumped on the only Class 4 rapid and had to swim the rapids. Exciting and a bit terrifying at the same time when you don’t know if you’re about to be bashed into a rock in front of your family.

As the day came to a close, I started thinking about all the different ways you can cross-train. Rafting, or any prolonged and strenuous activiting is certainly one way to do it. I’ve been thinking about buying a kayak ever since my wife and I nearly passed right over a whale in Maui a couple years ago on a kayak. Maybe it’s time, but there are so many styles to choose from.

A good friend has invited me to go rock climbing, and I have considered canyoneering, snowshoeing, inline skating, yoga, and lots of other things. The yoga actually makes the most sense–I could use the core training and stretching. I’ll admit most of this nonsense may have nothing to do with cross-training at all. All this other stuff just sounds like great fun and I can’t ever get enough of the great American outdoors. And you have to wonder after getting in the required workouts for the swim, bike, run, how much training benefit you really gain from adding a fourth or fifth dimension. I suppose the off-season provides a good excuse to try something new. So much to do, so little time.

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