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Over the course of the past year, I’ve written a lot about running. Why? The answer’s easy; I’ve been embarking on marathons and made jogging a daily practice since I was young. I love the sport, and I enjoy talking about its quirks and joys. But even as an incurable runner, I think that it’s important to think beyond the track or winding path by periodically considering other exercise options. Now, as the weather cools and it becomes a bit more difficult to motivate ourselves to lace up our running sneakers and hit the road, I believe that everyone should take a moment to set their stopwatches down and think about their individual exercise practices.  Are they balanced? What should be changed to create a more holistic fitness plan? Below, I’ve listed a few points to consider.

 

Consistency

Unfortunately, running for five miles straight once a week won’t cut it. How consistent is your practice? Ideally, every runner should engage in 20-45 minutes of aerobic activity 3-6 days per week, every week. Those interested in building a balanced fitness plan should also schedule in resistance training three days per week, and gradually increase the amount of weight they use as they become accustomed to it.

 

Variety

Think outside of the box! I love running, but I don’t limit myself to it. Consider trying something new by taking up tennis or rowing. Or, if you prefer solitary sports, schedule a morning swim or bike ride! Incorporating new activities into your weekly practice will help you avoid one-sport boredom and help you exercise different muscle groups.

 

Give Yourself Time to Recover

Theoretically, you could exercise seven days a week – but you probably shouldn’t. Your body needs time to recover from the strain a workout imposes on it, so make sure to schedule in opportunities for rest and recovery. Allowing your body the time it needs to bounce back will boost your performance and physical well-being in the long run.

 

Remember to Stretch

You only have one body – so don’t mistreat it! Remember to stretch after workouts to loosen any potential knots before they form, and make an effort to concentrate on often-tight areas such as your quads and shoulders. Always make sure that you stretch correctly, as incorrectly-executed stretch may cause you pain. This is particularly important in the chillier seasons, given that winter’s characteristically colder air often causes muscles to stiffen more quickly.