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Running is the new cross-training

Running is a great way to keep fit for other sports, especially if you don't have access to your usual facilities


Over the next little while, running is going to be the go-to exercise for many people, whether they’re seasoned runners or new to the sport. Montana Champagne has won multiple Canadian championships in swimming, and now that pools are closed, he has turned to running to keep fit, which is a route many athletes will likely take in the coming months. Champagne and other athletes may not be able to work on their sport’s technique while in self-isolation, but they can at least use running to ensure they’ll be well-conditioned when everything gets back to normal.

Photo: lululemon

Transitioning to running from other sports

“I started running last week, just with one run to see how my body and my joints would feel,” Champagne says. “I didn’t want to overdo it and injure myself.” Champagne, who swam for the University of Ottawa during his collegiate career, is the U Sports 200m IM (individual medley) record-holder, and he was shooting for Tokyo 2020 until the Canadian Olympic Committee announced that it would not be sending a team to Japan if the Olympics are not postponed.

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If you’re just getting started with running like Champagne, it’s important not to do too much too soon. For athletes coming to running from another sport, it might be tough to hold back and not go too hard right from the start. You’re fit, after all, so taking things slow at first may not be all that satisfying.

While athletes like Champagne may have the cardiovascular fitness to carry them at a fast pace, their joints and body aren’t conditioned for multiple kilometres of pounding on hard ground. As difficult as it may be to rein yourself in, it’s necessary.

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“I know how important it is to be patient at the start and build into it, rather than hurt myself and probably be out for even longer,” Champagne says.

Running to maintain fitness

When facilities around the country closed, Champagne says he was focused on doing anything he could to keep fit.

“I was just thinking that I needed to be able to train consistently and make sure I could still keep up with my endurance and fitness, and just finding ways to work with that,” he says, adding that the first thing his coaches told him to do following the pool and gym closures was to run. While this is not ideal for a swimmer, Champagne says he’s happy to be able to do something.

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“It’s nice to be able to have an option, but obviously it’s unfortunate that we’re in this situation,” he says. In addition to running, he performs at-home workouts like pushups, burpees and whatever he can work in with his limited supply of weights. He also uses resistance bands to mimic swimming.

This is the case for athletes all across Canada and the rest of the world. Champagne says he isn’t the biggest fan of running, and that’s likely the case with athletes from many different sports, but it provides them with the valuable opportunity to work out. Running may not be everyone’s favourite activity, but right now, it’s one of the best options people have left.