Signing up for a gym or joining a running club is great for staying in shape, but when it’s time to take body to the brink, a few extra curls just won’t do. Whether it's racing up a skyscraper, paddling the Pacific, or stepping into the ring, these are the best 12 ways to push yourself harder.
Brave the Waves
An open-water swim is nothing like laps in the pool.
"The open water is a dynamic environment, where you're potentially dealing with fog, waves, currents, wind – all these situations that can make a beginner panic," says Gerry Rodrigues, head coach at Tower 26, a swimming club in Los Angeles. I learned that competing in my first Orca Alcatraz Challenge, a 1.5-mile race from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco. It's one of many open-water challenges held in bodies of water everywhere. There's a pro circuit, and even the Olympics now feature a 10,000-meter open-water competition.
Among the biggest challenges: swimming straight without lane lines. "Pretty much everybody swims in circles," Rodrigues says. Plus, choppy waves bounced me all over and filled my mouth with salt water. But, as I had practiced in the pool, I kept lifting my head up, aiming for a building near the finish line. Finally, 38 minutes after leaping out of the ferry, I stumbled onto the beach and looked back to Alcatraz, thinking, "Wow, I just did that."
or try these . . .
Liberty to Freedom
2.2 miles from the Statue of Liberty to lower Manhattan. [urbanswim.org]
1, 2.5, or 5 kilometers in the warm waters off Sarasota, Florida. [sharksmasters.org]
Credit: Aric Crabb / Oakland Tribune / MCT / Landov