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Steve Wagner, Published March 18 2012

Wagner: Changing workouts brings new challenges

The other day I was driving on a lonely stretch of road between Fargo and Bemidji.

The ribbon of asphalt, stretched to the horizon, was marked by long, gradual inclines, the type of hills that force you as a runner to slow the pace as your hamstrings start to burn from the work.

One day, I found myself saying, I will run this stretch of road just to say I did it.

While that may not impress anyone, I will walk away from the assignment with the quiet satisfaction of knowing I did it. And then I will find another long stretch of road in which it takes more mental courage than physical prowess to conquer.

As a runner, there are few places I go where I don’t think about lacing up the shoes. It’s just part of who I am. But I have a few quests this year that should take me out of my comfort zone.

For instance, I want to start cycling, both road and trails, to complement my running and see the world from a different perspective. The problem is that I don’t know where to really begin. And while I have a mountain bike, I haven’t used it much. For a few months, I’ve had my mind set on buying a road bike with the idea that I’d incorporate a few workouts a week into my routine.

And that’s where I’m hoping you come in. There are plenty of people who do both, or have transitioned from one to the other. Do you have suggestions or advice for runners looking to add cycling to their exercise routines? If so, share them with me.

Later next month, I’m also joining a couple of runners for an adventure race, hosted by Extreme North Dakota racing, in Turtle River State Park near Grand Forks. Adventure racing is also a new concept for me, and I’m looking forward to experiencing something out of my comfort zone. Any tips from adventure racers out there would be helpful, too.

Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com He can be reached via email at swagner@bemidjipioneer.com