***NOTE FROM ENO: This is part 1 of a 5-part series about how to stay active in the outdoors through flatland training – essentially, training for the mountains without actually being in the mountains.***
By Justin Fricke, aka the JustinTheWeekendWarrior
Training is an essential aspect of any sport. You can’t simply run a marathon without ever having trained for one in your life. Your body would not know how to react, and you would have had to develop the mental toughness to take on that long of a run.
The same goes for any other sport like hiking, mountain biking, climbing, etc. You need to train “outside” your sport. However, if you live in a flat state such as Florida (like yours truly), but want to spend some time in the mountains, you’re going to be in for a fitness shock.
So how can you build up the strength and endurance to do some physical activities in the mountains if your state doesn’t allow for you to train in the mountains?
You make up your own training regimen to fit that style.
Over the next 5 weeks, I’ll be posting a new idea each week on how to make the most of your training when you’re not in the same environment as your activity.
Part 1: Loose Sand Running
Florida is known for its white sandy beaches. A great way to get some endurance training in is to run through the loose sand. This works out well because you’re also building up your leg muscles, something you’ll need for the steep uphill hikes you have to do in the mountains.
Of course, not all states have the beach, but I’m almost certain you can find some loose sand somewhere. Most lakes have a “beach” with loose sand. The distance may be short, but you can always run laps. There’s always a beach volleyball court to run around as well. Some public parks have them and you can run some laps and then play a pick-up game of beach volley ball with some friends.
If you have chronic knee pain, this exercise is great because of the low impact. Rather than running on pavement, soft sand provides low impact for your knees and can help reduce the chances of getting shin splints down the road.
This is also a great training exercise for some barefoot running. Again, the low impact is going to prevent some stress to your feet compared to running on pavement. If you do go barefoot, watch out for things like broken glass or shells.
Now, running in soft sand isn’t going to be the easiest activity at first. You may want to warm up to it by running on grass first. Start slow, go short distances, and don’t overdo it. The last thing you want to do is hurt yourself while you’re training.