So you are 20 plus years older and 40 pounds heavier (it’s the weight training—I swear!) than your peak running days. Yet the competitive juices still flow as freely as they did when you were in your prime. Does this sound familiar? Maybe, maybe not, but it is the situation I currently find myself in.
What can you do when competitive running is no longer appealing, yet you still train diligently and have the urge to compete?
The solution is to find another sport. This is how I became involved with dragon boat racing.
Dragon boating? Yes, dragon boating. Imagine a boat with 10 rows of two paddlers, a drummer in the front for pacing, and a steersperson in the back—that is a dragon boat. The races are run over a course of approximately 400 to 500 meters, so that an average boat will take about two and a half minutes to complete a race.
So what are the compelling reasons to participate in something that appears totally unrelated to running?
- It is a competition, and I get the same anxiousness and feelings that accompanied me before any running race.
- It motivates me in my running. I am committed to being fit for my team, so I am consistent in my workouts and even add speed and stamina training to my running program, such as stairs and intervals.
- Rowing events are all about cardiovascular fitness and power to weight ratios, which naturally favor runners. In my opinion, a dragon boat race feels very similar to doing an 800m track race, with the same lactic acid build up and fatigue.
- I get a good aerobic and upper body work out from dragon boat practices which are done once or twice per week for an hour each session.
- I enjoy the camaraderie of being on a team, and my experience of racing on land does have some crossover to dragon boating as far as strategy is concerned.
- It is completely different from running.
So there you have it, a sport where you can show off your running fitness without having to run. An activity that will give you incentive to fire up your running workouts with some intensity, and also give your body some balance with upper body training. Plus, an outlet for your desire to compete without having to be the sleek, svelte younger person you once were.
So if there are any other runners out there who have had the same revelation as I have regarding dragon boat racing as cross training for running, please feel free to share your thoughts and observations with our readers.