I’ve been running off and on since high school. But for a 10-year stretch, there was more “off” than “on” going on. Law school at night, 80-hour weeks at a law firm, launching a dot-com, and three kids left me little time to run. Around 2000, I rejuvenated my routine. As I previously wrote, between 2004 to 2007 I ran three marathons. I struggled to finish the first two in just over 5 hours and was pleased. On my third try, I finished in 4:54 and suddenly realized that I was capable of much better.
This year, I trained harder and smarter, lost 31 pounds in four months and went to the start far fitter than before. My final time was 4:18, a 36-minute PR. Part of my success can be attributed to eating better and training more consistently. But a major boost came from an unexpected source: boxing class. Yes, two to three mornings per week since July, I have risen at 5 a.m. and participated in a boot camp-style boxing exercise workout, the apex of which is a three-minute sparring session with the instructor.
The short-duration, high-intensity style of boxing works your heart, lungs, and arms and legs in a much different way than a series of long runs. At the first class I attended, the instructor tried to talk me out of it. In the final class, my heart and lungs were stronger than they had been since high school, and the instructor extended our sparring session by 30 seconds because I had so much energy left.
Adding a different element to your fitness routine lets you work new muscles and extend the duration of your workouts without overtaxing the muscles you rely on to run. The Cardioblog explains how to add boxing to your own routine.
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Earlier this year we published an article on findingDulcinea on the benefits of cross-training: "Cross-training: Variety is the Spice of Sport."