Telling a triathlete to do some cross-training can seem a bit obscure given that they’re already readily engaged in three sports during the year. But starting a run program in December or January can lead to physical and mental burnout come late summer. Cross-training is one way to avoid that because it allows you to work up a sweat, improve your endurance, build strength and have some fun without thinking too much about what you’re doing. That might mean paddling a kayak, cross-country skiing, snowshoe running, hiking or doing any number of gym workouts from a spin class or core power yoga, to something more dynamic like cardio boxing or The Bar Method.
“I’ve spent the last three winters skiing my ass off and it has paid great dividends,” says Kevin Dessart, who has raced in the Ironman World Championships seven times and has twice been the top age-group finisher at Ironman Arizona. “While it’s not specific for improving your running, it improves everything. I specifically make sure I do some hill work on the skis, which both kicks your ass aerobically and builds strength. I’ve never done anything that is such a complete workout from head to toe. It also keeps you fresh, as I know during the summer most tri geeks like me do more than enough biking and running, and skiing is a great diversion from this. I always compare it to trail running, because you are usually in the trees, but there is less pounding and the scenery is beautiful.”