Q. I keep hearing about a new sport called “speedriding.” What is it and where can I try it out?
Speedriding is another one of those hybrid sports that combines one crazy activity with another. You know, since one sport simply isn’t good enough for the daredevils of the world! As if paragliding and freestyle skiing weren’t exciting enough on their own, combine the two and you've got speedriding. Imagine the thrill of skiing downhill combined with the ability to defy gravity, leaping and flying over rough and rocky mountain terrain, before landing again. Sounds exciting, right? Clearly the city of Austin isn't going to be a hotbed of speedriding activity anytime soon, but if you've got time and money to spend, France and Switzerland are optimal countries to try it out. Closer to home, you can find ski resorts in Utah and Colorado, among other favorite snow destinations, that offer the sport. speed-flying.com/instruction
Q. I want to start incorporating swimming into my workouts. I’m curious, how does swimming equate to running in regard to calorie burn and health benefits?
First off, congrats on wanting to incorporate cross-training into your fitness regime! Not only will this practice help your muscles recover, but it also goes a long way in warding off injury. Cross-training also decreases the fatigue and burnout commonly experienced by a one-sport athlete.
Swimming helps runners by teaching them body balance and breath control. As a swimmer, you have to learn how to breathe properly in an environment that doesn't encourage breathing at all. Swimming requires a lot of technical work and less efficient swimmers will expend more calories and energy than efficient and skilled swimmers. (That said, I don’t recommend going out and flailing your way through a mile of crappy swimming just to burn more calories. You want to actually enjoy the sport and have it enhance your running.)
Because we all have different body types and skill levels, there is no fast formula that calculates an accurate swimming versus running calorie burn. There are, however, watches (i.e. Garmin and Polar) that can track mileage, calorie burn, heart rate, and other data metrics for multiple sports all on one device. However, I encourage you not to think of cross-training solely from a caloric standpoint. Instead, think of it in terms of becoming a more complete athlete. Practicing multiple sports makes you a more well-rounded athlete and will leave you more mentally rested for that next training session.
Q. If I don’t eat before a workout, I end up feeling fatigued. But if I do eat something, my stomach feels bloated and starts cramping. I don’t know what to do. Help!
Starting a workout on an empty stomach (especially a longer workout) is never a good idea. “Hitting the wall” or “bonking” is enough to drive anyone away from endurance sports. It’s crucial to understand what's going on in your body and know what type of fuel is best for you.
Contrary to what big food marketers tell us, no two people are made the same and the body is a little more complex than simply “eating more carbs” or “going gluten-free,”—two opposing pieces of advice. The simplest thing you can do is to keep a food log and start paying attention to what foods seem to cause you the most trouble during a workout. Do you eat a pre-workout bagel and then always feel terrible? Try swapping the bagel for a banana and a small amount of nut butter.
Eat real foods instead of processed, sugar-laden replacements. For long distances, I’ll take dates and Justin's nut butter over GU’s and gels any day. They take a little longer to digest, but provide more satiety in the long run. Plus, real foods are packed with more nutrients than a quick shot of chemicals. Also try experimenting with different pre-workout powders prior to your workout. (Generation UCAN, for instance, is powered by SuperStarch—a healthy, natural, gluten-free innovation in carbohydrate nutrition.) SuperStarch is a complex carbohydrate that stabilizes blood sugar, causing virtually no reaction from the fat-storage hormone, Insulin. Mix it with water and you’re ready to train for a couple hours.