Train Like an Olympic Athlete in Greenville, SC


If visions of Rio has you reliving your glory days, why not experience the spirit of Olympic sport and competition right along with the games. You may not be going for the gold anytime soon, but you can still train like an Olympic athlete in your own backyard. Greenville, SC, is a super active community, so you might even make some new friends in the process. And you will definitely get fit as a bonus.

Parks and Rec
Take a walk or jog, or bike the entire length of the 21-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail greenway. Join the some 500,000 annual users of the trail to not only benefit from a killer workout, but to also enjoy the best of Greenville. At the north end of the train in Traveler's Rest by mile marker 24, you can also test your finesse at the the Bike Skills Flow Park at Gateway Park. The park has mountain bike courses for all levels and is especially geared toward new bikers to become comfortable with mountain biking before hitting the trails.

Once you've mastered the course, head to Paris Mountain State Park for the real deal. Rumor has it that Tour de France participant George Hincapie trains at the park. To give your tail a break from biking, at Paris Mountain, you can also rent canoes and paddle the 13-acre Lake Placid, hike the miles of trails, or refuel and destress with a picnic.

Fitness and Fun
To get your Michael Phelps on, challenge yourself with some competitive swimming at the Westside Aquatic Complex. Join the Masters, Triathlon, and Fitness Greenville club at the complex, which is free to members. Competition is not a prerequisite, but you can take advantage of coached swimming on Tuesday and Thursday mornings (early) from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 pm, or Saturdays from 7:00 a.m to 8:30 a.m.

For some friendly but perhaps less intense competition, Caine Halter YMCA has an adult basketball league. You might just find your own dream team, or at the very least, you can have fun shooting some hoops. Another fun (and free) option is the Ramona Graham Fitness Trail at Cleveland Park. The 16-station course weaves throughout the park, where you'll not only perspire but also be inspired with dreams of the podium.

Run a Race
If you aspire to be the next Usain Bolt, why not try your feet at a race. For your couch to 5K plan and chance to geek out, sign up for the Superhero 5K. Taking place on August 13, the race starts at the Kroc Center and winds through downtown Greenville for all to see your superhero status. Come donning your best superhero impression. There are prizes for the best adult and child costumes.

If you're a serious athlete ready to take it to the next level, the Greenville Triathlon takes place on August 14. With all the swimming training you've got under your belt from the Aquatic Complex, you'll be ready to tackle the challenge. The best part is you win a medal just for finishing, no Olympic trials required. But completing a triathlon is certainly no easy feat. You'll feel good knowing you're capable of an act of Olympic proportion, even if you're not marching in the opening ceremonies.

Olympic fever is about to descend, so get your tail in gear, even if it's just once every four years. No matter how you choose to participate, in the words of Bela Karolyi, "You can do it." And maybe have fun, too.

Jannan Poppen is a travel writer based in Greenville, SC. She's an explorer at heart and will try just about anything once, except maybe a triathlon.