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The Benefits of Becoming a Multisport Endurance Athlete

By Gaelle Abecassis | Apr 2, 2024

Participating in different endurance sports can play a crucial role in your overall health. Outside of sufficient sleep each night, exercise may be the most beneficial habit you can practice. And one way to stay active for decades is to mix things up. Doing so will reduce the risk of an overuse injury, maximize your all-around fitness, and, perhaps most importantly, keep you from getting bored and skipping exercise altogether. Staying actively involved in your athletic journey is the key goal, as consistent physical exertion will keep you fit well into your retirement years.

Now, we’re not suggesting that everyone take up triathlon with its mix of running, cycling, and swimming training. Not everyone has access to a pool. Not everyone likes running or feels comfortable riding a bike on busy streets. And that’s just fine. You can enjoy the benefits of multisport life by engaging in just two sports. You can practice each simultaneously, treating one as your prime focus and the other as a cross-training activity. Or, you can cycle through seasons of each sport, focusing on one for four to six months, then switching to the other. 

Below is a quick breakdown of how each multisport approach works and how Humango’s AI coach can help you thrive in all your athletic pursuits.

The Cross Trainer

Triathletes certainly fall in the cross-trainer category. A triathlon training plan balances multiple sports, focusing on getting progressively stronger and faster in each. But in practice, cross-training elevates one sport above another. For example, say your goal is to run a half marathon in the fall. Your half marathon plan has you running three days a week. On at least two other days, you can use cycling to recover from your runs and maintain your aerobic capacity. Cyclists can flip this scenario to a cycling-specific plan, as well. If you’re logging long hours on your indoor cycling trainer over the winter in preparation for a spring century ride, you can go for short runs on your off days to get outside, breathe some fresh air, and shore up your bone density while you’re at it. 

Why You Want a Coach: Figuring out how much cross-training is the right amount takes experience and knowledge. You want to do enough work to keep your fitness moving forward but not so much that you don’t give yourself time to recover. Plus, different sports will have different recovery times. Take runners, for example. They need more time for their joints to recover than cyclists or swimmers. Knowing how much time is necessary at the onset of your training plan can make the rest of it go smoothly. Humango does this planning for you. 

The Seasonal Athlete

This person bases their sport on the season. They may cross-country ski or swim indoors all winter, cycle during the spring and early summer, and then train for a marathon during the fall. It’d be easy for this athlete to drop any thought of the other sports and focus solely on the sport in season, but doing so means they start each season’s sport from zero every time. Sure, they have the conditioning and fitness for the transition. But it takes the muscles specific to that sport a few weeks or more to catch up. This lag time is prime injury time. Take a transition from swimming to running as an example. The necessary adaptations needed for the muscles, tendons, and bones to handle the pounding and stresses of running will take weeks to come around.

Why You Want a Coach: When you work with a coach who knows what you want to accomplish, they can develop a training plan that allows you to reach your goals for a particular season while simultaneously preparing you to transition to the next sport. If you’re training for a spring distance running race — a half-marathon or marathon — a coach can prescribe recovery days on your cycle trainer, which will prime your body to switch to mountain biking season in the summer. Using advanced AI technology, Hugo, Humango’s digital coach, automatically adds those recovery days into your schedule based on your goals and training performance.

The Long-Term, Short-Term Commitment

One could make the case that most endurance athletes fall into this category. They’ve pursued their sport for years and shaped their athletic identity around it. Maybe their goal was to complete three Ironman triathlons in five years or ride a century in every state over 10 years. Whatever the case, injuries happen. Burnout happens. As a result, these athletes switch sports to try something new — or find an activity they can do without pain.

Why You Want a Coach: The transition from one sport to another can be difficult, especially when you don’t see the immediate results you expect. Armed with your data, a coach can lay out a realistic plan to meet your body where it is. This way, you can grow into your new sport as efficiently and safely as possible. If you’ve been training for years and years, you may not need to follow a “Zero to Hero” beginner’s training program. A coach will know whether you can leapfrog in the intermediate-level plans or not. When these transitions are done well, they can launch your new athletic endeavor with more satisfying results. Humango uses your current fitness and real-time training data to make your transition as seamless as possible. 

Whether you practice your multisport lifestyle on a day-by-day basis — or decade-by-decade basis — you’re doing right by yourself in the long term. Changing up your sports keeps your muscles and brain stimulated, which is a surefire way to keep yourself in the fitness game for life.

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Posted by Gaelle Abecassis