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Ok, first off if you don't know me I have a running bias and my first and foremost goal is to become a better and faster runner. I believe that there is some truth to the theory that the best way to improve as a runner is to run, i.e., continue to pound out the mileage and throw some periodization into your schedule.

That being said I'm considering taking a little downtime from running after my marathon. I'll still probably put in 25 mpw or so but for the most part they'll be unscheduled miles. I'd like to consider some other activities this winter to take a little mental and physical break from the pounding of training for a marathon 2 summers in a row.

What activities will keep my aerobic fitness the same as my current level of running 45-55 mpw and potentially make me a better, more efficient and stronger runner?

A little additonal information:

**I'm not a swimmer so that is out.
**I live in Iowa so biking isn't a particularly good choice for winter months.

Anybody into cross country skiing or snow-shoeing?

Other ideas?

---
megawill

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Would you consider learning to swim? It won't make you a better runner, but if you should get injured running, it will give you something to fall back on during your injury downtime.

Just a thought.
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I have incorporated cycling into the mix, I ride 2x a week instead of a run. I like riding b/c its different, and its a lot of fun. I think the riding has helped a little bit, at least I feel stronger.

Ever though about trying weights Jerry?
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join a basketball league (age appropriate) at your local Y, health club, etc
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To answer your original question of "What activities have made you a better runner?" My answer is none. Only running has made be a better runner. Cycling has made me a better cyclist, ditto for swimming and weights but none of these have made me a better runner. My overall endurance is much greater though.
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I have done both snowshoeing and CC skiing. They are both good to get heart rate up and get you out doors. The problem is the crappy snowfalls we have had lately. Since you live in Iowa take up Pheasant hunting. :D
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Would you consider learning to swim? It won't make you a better runner...

Yeah it will, as will snow-shoe running and XC skiing.
None of them will make you a better runner form wise, but all three will do wonders for improving your aerobic capacity, thereby increasing your VO2max. And the snow-shoe running will kick your quads!
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better nutrition
asthma management
better attitude
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Another vote for swimming here. It helps my cardio probably more than anything else, but it does help. Maybe it's because I'm really slow and have a long way to improve, but I swam all last fall and raced much better last winter and spring. I always have a really good run the day after a long swim. But if you're dead set against it, I'd go for the XC skiing, it's harder than it looks and it's great for your legs. I also agree on the weights, I lift at least twice a week when I can fit it in and the overall strength building helps more than you think. I'd also suggest power yoga, it's not for sissies.....that stuff kicks your butt, you actually sweat during it, it'll keep you good and flexible, and Bryan Kest's tapes are geared toward strength building as well. It's tough but a great workout. So is kickboxing.
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Have you thought about a rowing machine?
I use them from time to time and it is a nice break from the pounding miles while also keeping your cardio up
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Running has made me a better runner.
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Running has made me a better runner.
Yes, but has running made you a better driver?
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