The Mountain Times

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The importance of cross training and active rest

Perhaps the most important component to any training routine is the time off. This allows for active rest and, yes, this term is oxymoronic but vital for understanding. Active rest allows you to prevent over training, stress injuries or repetitive use injuries often procured by high repetitions of the same or similar activity. Not only should athletes cross train but also those who concentrate on a singular activity such as biking, running, kayaking, hiking etc. must take time off too, your muscles are working even when you are not!

The key is a cardiovascular workout while using your musculoskeletal system in a varied way. With winter digging in its heels we are sometimes challenged with fluctuating temperatures, single digit wind chills and a barrage of road/sidewalk conditions. The good news is we live in Vermont and have a wide array of outdoor winter activities geared towards the intense athlete or the weekend warrior.  

Vermont offers challenging alpine skiing, winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and a number of indoor fitness centers. The Appalachian Trail meanders through our state with numerous trail heads located off major driving routes. Within eye sight of Killington and Pico Mountain is the Sherburne Pass trail leading to Picos's 3,957' peak.  A quick three-mile ascent via the Route 4 trail head is great for snowshoeing or early/late season trail running. Aside from the mountains, Rutland offers numerous indoor gyms with indoor tennis, weight training equipment and cardio machines.

Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are also great local options, The Mountain Top Nordic and Snowshoe Center has 60km of trails to explore. For backcountry running, Pine Hill Park has 16 miles of trails laced with banked corners, bridges and wooded land. For the whole family there is ice skating at Castleton State College Spartan Arena or Giorgetti Arena in Rutland. If you do not own the equipment, rent it through the facility or a local outdoor store before buying it.

Work on building your cardiovascular baseline and challenge your body in new ways this winter. So vary your training and try something new, then make sure you rest sufficiently to allow your muscles to recover.