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Go back to the fundamentals, and give adventure racing a try


Now that the Houston Marathon — and marathon training — has come and gone, what will replace your early morning work week jogs and customary long Saturday runs?

If you're looking for a cross-training opportunity that'll keep you out of the gym while still making you stronger and fitter, why not take your workouts off-road and try adventure racing?

Perhaps you're skeptical that adventure racing could possibly satiate the hard core runner and triathlete in you, but you might want to give this relatively new sport another look. 

The best thing about an adventure race? You'll never have to do another event alone again. Adventure racing incorporates a strong team dynamic, and races are done in teams of either two, three, or four, depending on the length of the race. It's like a built-in cheering squad and support station, except instead of being on the sidelines, they go wherever you go.

If one of your favorite parts of a triathlon is the swimming portion, then you'll be right at home in a kayak. Kayaking is a key component of an adventure race, and it helps cultivate a strong upper body as you paddle your boat through lakes and rivers. 

Do issues and injuries plague your enjoyment of running? Running in an adventure race is primarily off-road and trail running, which is infinitely more forgiving on your ligaments, muscles, and joints than a traditional foot race. 

Put those skinny tires in the garage for an adventure race — mountain bikes are the name of the four-wheeled game. Whereas road riding pushes your fitness boundaries, mountain biking will draw on and test your lower body strength and sharpen your bike handling skills. Every twist, turn, and hill is a new and exciting challenge propelled by fat tires.

And then there's the orienteering aspect of an adventure race, where your team's navigator plots points on a map, then uses strategy, map orientation, and terrain association to reach checkpoints efficiently.

It's a social, team-oriented, strategic romp through the woods. Is it possible to forget you're even working out during an adventure race? Absolutely. It's not just a sprint to the finish for time. It's an alternative way of reaching health and athletic goals in your life.

But really, there's nothing like checking it out for yourself. Houston Fit Adventure Racing kicks off its spring season on Feb. 7. Why not give it a shot, and put a little adventure in your life?

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