Off-season training using the TTC


It started with deciding to take public transportation instead of driving to work last fall.  First, I was just sprinting to the bus stop so I wouldn’t miss the bus and I did the usual walking up the escalator on the left instead of standing on the right in the subway [but did you know that TTC removed signs saying stand on the right in 2007 for safety reasons and that a study done on the London tube in 2015 suggested it may be more efficient use of the escalator if everybody stood on both sides?]

Since not everyone follows that (now) unwritten rule, I started walking up the stairs, which evolved into running, and then sprinting up the stairs. The good thing is that hardly anyone takes the stairs up so there’s minimal traffic.  Just because I can be a little competitive, I started pushing myself and now I can get to the top faster than people walking up the escalator. The amazing thing was realizing that this was helping me tackle the uphills in cross-country skiing.  Instead of doing that awkward Herringbone, I found I could just bound up the hills fast enough that I didn’t slide backwards.

If you take the subway during rush hour, you’ll be familiar with the no seats left, must stand thing, where you have to find a spot so you can grab a pole or lean against something so you don’t go flying (or sometimes it’s so jam-packed, you can do the sleep stand). The problem is that you can’t always find that spot and sometimes you still go flying even when you’re hanging on. It’s also hard to turn the pages of a book when the other hand is grabbing a pole.  So recently I started to try to balance myself on the subway without hanging on and I realized it was a lot like trying to stay upright when going downhill on skis, especially if you’re being rocked back and forth. It’s also kind of fun because it feels like you’re surfing or snowboarding on the subway train.

I thought I had stumbled onto something pretty brilliant but if you google “balancing on the subway”, the idea of getting a balance workout while standing on the subway has been written about here. And here. For the less adventurous, you can get a core workout sitting down.  And best strategies to stay upright on the subway has actually been discussed.  The next challenge for me is staying upright while walking towards the exit as the train pulls into the station while not hanging onto anything.  There are other positives – it’s more fun to ride the subway, I no longer have to pull out the smartphone to keep occupied, and I don’ t have to do that mad rush to grab a seat [by the way, it’s much worse on the Beijing subway where people don’t even pretend they’re rushing to grab a seat – they RUN and they push and shove even small children if needed].

So without a whole lot of snow or additional time needed, you can do a bit of off-season training while riding the TTC.