A runner’s off-season marks the period between training cycles when they take a break from running after a demanding racing schedule. Typically, these months are a runner’s best opportunity to focus on cross-training or other sports that may have taken a backseat during their rigorous training cycle. Team Injinji Athletes have found their passions outside of running, filling their off-seasons with everything from mountain biking to water sports. Follow along as we dive into these Athletes' favorite cross-training pursuits!
James Lauriello – Mountaineering
Mountaineering is an outdoor sport combining elements of hiking, climbing, and traversing diverse mountainous terrains.
James Lauriello is a trail runner and mountain athlete who can be found Mountaineering in the winter months. Based in Monument, Colorado, his competitive specialties include sub-ultra distance mountain races and some activity in the Fastest Known Time (FKT) scene. This season he’ll be racing the Cirque Series along with a few notable vertical kilometers.
How did your passion for mountaineering develop, and how does it complement your running experience during the off-season?
Before I fell in love with mountain running, I was a very active hiker. This later developed into a passion for mountaineering and some alpinism when I relocated to Colorado’s front range in 2021. The state is notable for its 14ers (a mountain peak with at least 14,000 ft of elevation), so I got started knocking off a few of these peaks at a time. As my skills and comfort developed in the mountains, I decided to begin tackling more technical objectives in the fall and summer months. Before long, I started attempting speed records on some of Colorado’s high peaks. As I continued to search for improvements in mountain running, specifically in the off-season, I started leaning into my love for mountaineering. This led me to spend more time in the high country during the winter months. I found it was a great way to continue developing my aerobic base, maintaining a high-altitude adaptation, and most importantly developing grit in cold and uncomfortable environments.
Could you share some of your favorite pieces of gear used for mountaineering?
Playing in the high peaks during the colder months really requires the right footwear. Some might leverage boots; however, I am a big fan of the La Sportiva Blizzard GTX shoes, coupled with a nice thick pair of Injinji toesocks. In addition, rather than crampons; on most peaks I can usually get away with a pair of Black Diamond Distance Spikes for icy conditions.
Can you share a memorable mountaineering adventure or achievement that stands out to you?
Achievement wise, one of my favorite days was establishing the Fastest Known Time route on Broken Hand Peak, (Sangre De Cristo Range, CO) a notable, technical, and very remote Colorado 13er. I attempted the route in winter conditions with two good friends. It was one of my most memorable days in the high peaks. Fun wise, came this past November – taking my two dogs – Ravi & Luna, and my fiancé, Rose, up on Quandary Peak in winter conditions. We had a blast playing above the clouds and taking in some fantastic views of the Mosquito & Sawatch Ranges.
Jessica Storrison-Carmean – Weightlifting
Olympic weightlifting involves lifting a weighted barbell off the floor overhead, attempting to lift more weight, with better form, than competitors.
Jessica is a Michigan-based runner who found a passion for getting stronger through weightlifting. As a runner, Jessica loves to find out what she can do, and that running (trail and ultras, especially) allows her to test herself. Living in Michigan, she has access to multiple amazing trail networks.
What inspired you to take part in weightlifting competitions?
I was introduced to weightlifting when I started Crossfit in 2015. We had Olympic weightlifting coaches and a club. After spectating at a competition, I gave competing a try. Like running, I liked that I could compete "me against me," and that since the lifts were so technical, there was always something to improve.
It’s important to let your body rest when it needs it. How have you found a balance between training for both running and weightlifting?
I have a different competition "season" for each, so I can focus on one at a time. I live in an area with a very snowy winter, so it is easier for me to focus on weightlifting in the winter and running in the warmer months.
What is your favorite pair of Injinji socks to train and compete in?
Jesus Topete Jr. – Mountain Biking
Mountain biking is a recreational and competitive sport that involves off-road cycling on rugged terrain and challenging landscapes.
Jesus is a trail and ultra runner from California who discovered mountain biking years ago and has been hooked ever since. Both mountain biking and trail running are truly his passions, and he loves ultra-distances.
How long have you been mountain biking? What initially drew you to the sport?
I started back in 2010. My coworkers invited me to go mountain biking with them, and I fell in love with the mountain biking community. A week after riding with friends, I got my first mountain bike.
Do you have advice for athletes looking to start mountain biking? What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Start riding on non-technical sections, get to know your bike, practice descending, and have fun. Something I know now that I wish I knew when I started is that there is a proper way to train. Use the power meter and a heart-rate band. Don’t train every day and take rest days. Ride easy and long runs, and ride with stronger riders to become stronger.
What Injinji socks tend to be the go-to for biking adventures?
Lovelyn Findley – Water Sports
Lovelyn is a Florida-based runner who has always loved being on the water. Stand-up paddle boarding (balancing on a board while using a paddle to propel forwards through the water) and surfing are two of her favorite water sports. As a dedicated runner, she thrives on the exhilaration of pushing her physical limits and achieving personal milestones. Her running journey has been a transformative experience, shaping not only her fitness but also fostering resilience and determination.
What drew you to participate in water sports, and how has your passion grown over the years?
I'm a water baby through and through. I grew up on an island, surrounded by the good stuff. You know, the kind of place where every day is a chance to dive into a body of water. It all started as a childhood thing, just messing around and having a blast.
Over the years, though, my love for water sports has gone from casual fun to a real-deal passion. It's not just about the thrill anymore; it's about embracing the challenges and soaking in the peaceful vibes that come with it. Water sports have become my go-to for making connections, whether it's laughing with friends or just feeling one with nature. Riding waves or paddling around isn't just about the action; it's about creating memories and finding my happy place in the middle of all the splashes and ripples.
In what ways have these sports influenced your approach to training for road or trail races?
Participating in water sports has notably shaped my training strategy for road and trail races, elevating my strength, endurance, and mental resilience. The dynamic aspects of water activities complement my running routine, creating a comprehensive and robust training plan. Additionally, the variety they offer prevents monotony, especially during hot Florida days when my desire to be in the water provides a refreshing and enjoyable alternative.
If you could choose one, what is your all-time favorite water sport?
If I had to single out one water sport as my absolute favorite, it would hands down be paddle boarding. Why, you ask? Well, picture this: gliding across the water, basking in the tranquility all around while giving every muscle in your body a solid workout. It's the sweet spot where fitness meets serenity, creating a perfect blend of relaxation and physical activity. What's even better is that paddle boarding isn't just a solo gig—it's a fantastic way for me to connect with nature, find my inner peace, and share the joy with friends along for the ride.