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The benefits of cross country skiing to runners.

A lot of runners dread winter because the cold, wet, sloppy conditions present additional challenges to training regimens that they feel are already challenging enough. Often the motivation to train is dampened, and runners back off their training because of weather.

Instead of backing off this winter, simply shift gears. Change the emphasis of your training to include activities that take advantage of the winter conditions. Cross-country skiing is an activity that runners can substitute for at least some of their workout. There are a number of reasons why this works well.

For one thing, it gets you outside without having to slop through slush or climb through snowdrifts in your high-dollar running shoes. Exercising inside on treadmills or exercise bikes is just not the same for a runner used to the wind on his face. The cross-country skier may be outside, but he is warm because of his activity level. And, in most cases, there is scenery to enjoy that beats the heck out of the TV monitors hanging in front of the treadmills at the gym.

The workout is excellent and experts agree that cross-country skiing is among the most aerobically complete activities due to the high level of involvement and intensity of the upper body muscles, as well as the lower body. Depending on the style and technique you use, the shoulders, arms, upper and lower back, and the abdominal muscles are all involved to one degree or another. Strength and endurance are developed differently than in running.

Cross-country skiing is a lower impact activity than running. The skier glides along the snow as opposed to pounding against the ground. Many runners find the change of activities provides a welcome rest from the stress on the joints and muscles that comes from long distance running. And, the time and distance you cover in training sessions can be as long or longer with less strain on the body, making it a great way to improve aerobic endurance.

In addition, many cross-country ski workouts naturally include interval training. Even slight uphill stretches followed by the down hill portions that come after them provide an opportunity for exertion and recovery periods found in high quality interval training.

Particularly for runners who don't like to slack off or shorten their workouts for part of the year, cross-country skiing provides a way to increase the of length and intensity the aerobic part of your workout without increasing the stress on your body. More than one runner has changed from being a runner who cross-country skis in order to train for running, to a cross-country skier who runs to get ready for skiing. Even if you don't turn out to be a convert, cross-country skiing can change your attitude on winter training.

(Dale Guilford is a football and track coach in Idaho Falls, Idaho. lie is a regular contributor to "Running & FitNews.")
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Publication:Running & FitNews
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 1999
Previous Article:Maybe vitamin E.
Next Article:Relaxation and running economy.

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