Horse Play and The Intention Behind Intelligent Cross Training

While washing my equipment off after a Cris-Fit, aqua-restorative session, a person and a horse  appeared walking along waters edge coming from the East. The geography of our club is such that someone appearing out of the East means they either walked a long way or came across the bay. This woman walked a long way I thought…

After drying and putting some equipment away, I looked down to waters edge to see how the two travelers where doing and the woman and the horse had vanished. A scan of the bay found the upper 1/3 of a human n the head of horse about 150 meters off shore, swimming along in deep water, approximately 150 meters away from the distant shore. Fascinating and brilliant I thought.

Horses spend a ton of time on their feet, like any creature who spends  a significant amount of time upright, feet, legs, hips and backs get very tired, just ask the UPS person. Vertical load is good for soft tissue, connective tissue and for the bones but it is also very tiring.

As I continued to watch, horse and rider emerged out of the bay on the distant shore, they walked a bit before once again launching to cross the straight. Equine interval and cross training, just brilliant.

In the book I’m working on, cross training is one of the primary chapters. I see it as an intelligent tool for people wanting to go the distance in one of three primary ways.

  1. As a vehicle for active recovery: providing mental and physical relief  from the typical repetitive motion/focus of the single sport athlete. Think trail running for a swimmer.
  2. As a targeted tool to provide sport specific fitness in a delivery method that supports the movement pattern of the primary activity because of the similarity between the two. Think stand-up paddling for kayakers.
  3. As a targeted tool to provide quality fitness (energy system training) in a delivery method that causes minimal fatigue to the athlete’s primary sport muscle groups. Think prone paddling for a cyclist.

I was on the bay today do some recovery work myself. I did a series of two hundred meter efforts alternating surfski, SUP and swim, with short sand dune runs in between each transition, all at conversation pace. I left feeling more energized and far less sore from my prone training than when I arrived. Fall is a great time to experiment with some cross training before a new year’s ramp up in your primary fitness/sports objectives.

Train smart, have fun and never give up!

Coach Cris


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