Justin is a Canadian racer writing for teh excellent XC Ottawa web site.
Any racer has been in the situation where he wants or must go for a social ride, run, rollerski or hike. I define social rides as rides where training is not really the main objective. They mostly happen with friends or family who are either not competitive racers in your sport or are of a significantly different level. Even though they are not optimal training, social rides can be considered active recovery or be part of a greater workout. That is great but at some point we need to go for training rides, runs, rollerskis and hikes.
There are two obvious solutions to this problem. One option is to politely decline availability and invent an excuse or give the real answer. Depending on the situation, this can be an undesirable option.
The second option is to mix it up. If you are planning a long rollerski workout then invite someone to bike or rollerblade with you. If you plan on running, you can offer the same and if hiking then you can offer to take more weight than the other person. Basically, you create initial inequality that will turn out to perfectly match each participant’s abilities. The same can be done with workout types. One person can do a shorter higher intensity workout while the second person does a slightly different training session that allows for companionship for a while.
The benefits of mixing up the training like this are numerous. For one, skiers living in isolated communities can finally have training partners. For the others with plenty of training buddies, there is the possibility of training with friends and family that can’t necessarily keep up when doing the same activity. In some circumstances it even allows you to get better leverage over your day to day activities and get more training approved (mostly relevant to more mature individuals in long term relationships).
Lastly, these mixed sport training sessions allow two people who may never be able to appreciate each other’s level of fitness to train together. This often results in a better understanding of one’s choices or circumstances. Injured athletes can start training with the team without being fully recovered and benefit from the motivation and camaraderie. It is also very useful to give newcomers to the sport a good picture of training at an elite level without being intimidating.
This brings me to my assignment for you. In the next few weeks invite someone who you have never trained with to join you. Match up different sports and have a good time.