Winter is (almost) gone!

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Days are short. You go to work in the dark. You come home from work in the dark. You decided to take the winter off and recuperate after racing a 5k every weekend in the summer.

It is now February, and even though Punxsutawney Phil is predicting 6 more weeks of winter, it is time for you to get your running shoes out of the closet and go for a run!

I’ve tried putting together the most comprehensive list of ways to make your spring training easier, healthier, and more fun.

You will not be able to start were you left off. Your pre-winter shape is gone for the most part, and it’s time for you to rebuild. Go on short runs and then build up your endurance. Start off with 4-5 runs a week and stick to the golden rule of never adding more than 10% to your weekly mileage at a time.

Always start a run slow. Let your body warm-up and get use to the motions of running. If you feel inclined to stretch, stretch after you warm-up some.

After 3-4 weeks, you should be at about 75% of your pre-winter mileage. Pick up some speed work in the form of tempos, fartlek runs, or even some of those “fun” repeat 400m sprints at the high school track.

If, during this rebuilding period, you feel your body getting too stressed, don’t worry about taking a day off. Always listen to your body.

Cross training can be the make-it-or-break-it activity you us to enhance your running performance. Swimming, cycling, the stair master, or the elliptical can be used as a great low-impact endurance building activity.

It’s always important to know what you’ve done so you can improve for the future. Track your runs religiously. Find an online website to track your workouts (such as Garmin Connect, Buckeye Outdoors, Strava), create your own excel worksheet, or just handwrite it in one of those super fashionable composition notebooks. Going on group runs, and having everyone else do a write up on how the run went can give you a better idea on the kind of workouts you should focus on.

Even though it’s still cool/cold/extremely cold outside, staying hydrated is key. Being under-hydrated can affect your running and working out for days.

And the one last suggestion to have a better “get-back-into-shape” regime is to have a goal race! Whether a marathon, triathlon, or even a local 10k, have fun with knowing that you are going to smash your goal!

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