If you are following along with Consummate Athlete idea, then you are at least somewhat aware that we are suggesting that it is worth doing different sports, even if you focus on one specific one when it comes to performance goals. We want to be able to move in a variety of ways and with a variety of different people. (That’s why we love crosstraining!)
Inherent in this philosophy is the need to learn new things. As lifelong endurance athletes, we run and we bike but to do other things is … well, it’s a little out of our ordinary. So trying new things needs to become a focus during the week. You don’t have to give up the training that you love, but rather, you are embracing trying new things!
What if Saturdays were the day you went and took a lesson, did a slightly different type of ride, combined two sports, or tagged along with a friend’s passion?
Over the 5+ years we have been doing the Consummate Athlete Podcast, we have aimed to speak to a variety of people who do a variety of things. Here are some of the ideas they have shared for getting out beyond your normal.
Backpacking helps you to become comfortable in nature, and improves survival skills and awareness. Plus it’s just so relaxing! Many of the sports we do are outdoors and nature is good for you! What better way to relax then taking a long hike and sleeping outdoors? Not only will you push your body to use its ‘low gear’ all-day aerobic endurance, you will find muscles you didn’t know you had due to carrying the loaded pack and you will find around day 2 or 3 that your mind is much clearer and your mood elevated. Start slow with local hikes and backyard hikes but include this in your yearly plan.
- LISTEN: Sara Quackenbush, a rad woman who camps and makes her own gear
- READ: A Mini-Guide to Camping for Beginners
In our time-limited society, it is tempting to crunch as much as you can into your 60min workout window, but aim to go longer once a week and make it a ‘ramble’. Explore new roads, turn right where you usually turn left, and leave space to get lost. This might be a day you don’t look at any devices or watches or where you don’t leave your map screen up if you have topographical maps to help inform your journey. Not only will going longer improve your fitness but it will push you to explore new terrain, pace yourself and feed yourself in ways quick workouts never will.
For runners, this might mean a mix of hiking and running to stay out longer … you decide if you warm up hiking then run and finish hiking, or hike out and run back (we like both!). For cyclists, try doing an hour easily at ‘touring’ pace focused on keenly looking around and enjoying your surroundings or conversing with a riding partner.
While most workouts should be easy, it is worth pushing yourself to focus and work hard periodically. Some people do well with going hard once every 7-10 days, while others benefit from more frequent focused sessions. Try to embrace the feeling and focus of these workouts. Sitting with the discomfort and really observing your red zone are worth while pursuits. During these efforts, you can learn a lot about yourself and put focused time into using positive self talk when you find yourself thinking about quitting or slowing down or … well … just beating yourself up. If you practice this, it makes it much easier to use these techniques in races and in life!
- LISTEN: No Pain, No Gain: Why Some Days Should be Low-Intensity
- READ: My Own Bad Workout Experience + Coming Back From It!
TRY ROCK CLIMBING
Thinking about movement skills we have covered carrying, running so far in this article so why not add climbing? It is an accessible sport thanks to climbing gyms and guiding companies like our friend Leslie Timms’ company ‘On the Rocks’. Make a date with a friend and spend an afternoon learning to climb. The time in nature and doing something so different will be refreshing. A recent guest on the show, Stephen Cheung, discussed how climbing has been a great addition to his own life because it let his family do activity together and he also felt that it helped his body feel better on his bike rides!
- LISTEN: Rock Climbing, Small Business and Travel — Leslie Timms
- LISTEN: Training in the Heat + Climbing: Dr. Stephen Cheung
There are few situations, especially for endurance athletes, that putting more time into strength training wouldn’t help with overall health and consistency of training (remember consistency is everything!). If you train more consistently and avoid injuries, you will be a stronger cyclist. If you are more athletic (thanks to strength training), you will be more athletic on bike. Avoid common pitfalls of doing way too much to start and getting really sore (start with 10min!), of not tracking your progress (get a journal and record reps/sets/loads), and when in doubt get instruction to avoid feeling like you don’t know what you are doing or injuring yourself!
- LISTEN: Fitness, Strength, and Attempts – Dan John
- LISTEN: Consistency and Training Fundamentals – Dan Cleather
- DO: 15 Minute Core Strength with The Consummate Athlete — Video
TAKE A LESSON OR LEARN A TRICK
Doing bike tricks may seem like it is for kids, but many of the clients Peter works with learn things like jumps, wheelies and bunny-hops. You might never back-flip over a gorge in Utah on your mountain bike, but learning to hop over a log is not beyond you. For many cyclists getting instruction on skills is a HUGE challenge to ego but if you are willing to put hours into training why not spend time getting better technically. While some of these movements might seem dangerous, there is also a danger in not having some of the foundational skills around position and braking that can prevent you from crashing and spending money on rehab or simply missing out on riding fun!
- WATCH: All the Mountain Bike Skills Videos You Need in One Place
- LISTEN: Coaching, Bike Skills, and Health – Interview with Peter
SET A BIG SCARY GOAL
Need a push to start actually doing one of these new modalities of movement? Take a page from Peter’s book: in 2017, he signed up for an Ironman in order to learn how to swim properly. For some people, trying new sports with no goal in mind just doesn’t feel motivating or fun. So put something on the calendar, whether it’s a race or a bunch of backcountry campsites booked for a thru-hike this summer to get you going!
- READ: Top Swimming Tips from a Pro Ironman
- LISTEN: How to Swim – Total Immersion Swimming
- READ: Big Scary Goals—And Why We Need Them
LEARN TO DANCE
Dancing isn’t necessarily sport but it is hard to deny that it can be really fun, social and challenging. It’s one of our favorite things to do, and one of the biggest things we miss in the pandemic (OK, so we aren’t into nightclubs. But we LOVE a good wedding!). The benefits in rhythm and foot work also are great, and for many of us this is an uncomfortable thing where you could see very fast improvements in with only a few lessons. We have enjoyed lessons as a date night activity over the years and are excited to get back to this soon.