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On the Road

It’s easy for rowers, cyclists, and swimmers to default to doing their single sport. As a rower, the familiarity of moving my body in the same way, week after week, becomes a dependable routine.

But here’s the problem: it creates muscle, joint, and ligament patterns that overburden the body, and at a certain point, it can also stop producing the endorphins that put a fire in your belly and help maintain mental engagement and inspiration. Our bodies get bored, and so do our minds. Neither of which is a good recipe for growth. But I’ve learned to disrupt this well-traveled road through a staged approach to running.

My return to running was slow and measured, due to a tendon injury that sidelined me for two years. I started on a treadmill. It was a softer landing than pavement and gave me total control of my speed and incline. My first workout was a mixture of speed walking and hiking. I soon progressed to running with short bouts of walking. It felt great to swing my legs underneath me, to land softly but quickly on my feet, to stand tall and focus on getting air deep into my lungs.

Start this program slowly. Even if you’re already good shape, it is easy do more than you should. Also, do one session at a time and separate each one by at least two days. If running is not comfortable for you, switch to speed hiking and set the incline between 7 and 10. Always focus on landing lightly on your feet, arms swinging by your side, and staying tall with the core and upper body.

Session 1: 15 minutes

Two minutes easy walk; 2 minutes medium walk; 1 minute job. Repeat three times. Keep incline at 2-3 throughout.

Session 2: 20 minutes

Two minutes at an easy walk. Then go for 6 minutes, with 3 minutes medium walk; 2 minutes jog; 1 minute run. Repeat twice with the incline set at 3, increasing one level with each set.

Session 3: 25 minutes

Warm up with 2 minutes of fast walking and 1 minute of jogging. Then go 2 minutes medium run; 3 minutes steady walk; 3 minutes medium run; 2 minutes steady walk; 4 minutes medium run; 1 minute steady walk; 2 minutes medium run; 1 minute steady walk; and 2 minutes hard run. Keep the incline at 2-3 for the duration.

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