Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The offseason

Yep, its that time of year. The egg nog and wine is flowing and you have decided that "snowboarding" can easily replace the "long run" of each week. The weather is cold and wet and admittedly, it can get a bit harder to get out and hit your workouts each week. But, I would encourage you "seasonal" runners out there not to just put your running shoes on the shelf for the winter but instead, to try some new things, change your running up, and make sure that you are not discouraged with your running as the days get longer and the temperatures warm up. I thought I would discuss what I do during the winter and see if any of it appeals to you.

1. Don't think of it as the "dreadmill". Okay, I know, the treadmill stinks. But, instead of thinking about it as something you dread, look at it as a tool to improve your summer running. I can't stand doing standard "easy runs" on the treadmill but I do find I can pass the time fairly quickly if I am challenging myself on the treadmill. I like to do my "tempo" runs on there as I know the ole' rat wheel will keep my pace accountable. I do a ton of different workouts on it depending on how I feel. But, in general, I like to do about a 10 minute warm-up, 20-30 minutes at my 5K pace, and then a cool down. Its a great, hard workout that will make your easy runs seem nice n' slow.
2. Are you "Born to Run"? We get so many folks who are interested in barefoot running or running in shoes with minimal support. This is a great time of year to dabble in it. You want to take it very easy and just start with runs of 10-15 minutes at the most. This is a fun tool (as long as you don't overdo it) that will help you with your form once spring sets in. We have every degree of minimal shoes available at the shop from barefoot styles to light stability and we can help you choose the right shoe to help you comfortably explore strengthening your foot and improving your form.
3. Invest in the right clothing. Running in cotton or non-technical apparel sucks in the summertime but it is downright dangerous in the winter time. Its not a huge investment to get a pair of tights with a fleece lining or a jacket that will shield you from the outside elements and keep your dry and warm. This can make a huge difference as the weather won't seem like nearly as big an obstacle and you'll have to come up with a better excuse not to get out there.
4. Cross train. I run about 50% less in winter than summer. However, since my workload is lower, I try to improve my overall fitness. I try and do core training 2-3 times per week, I lift weights 3 times per week, and I do yoga 1X per week. (though some that have seen me do yoga would argue that I'm not really doing yoga due to my horrendous flexibility). This keeps things fresh for me and allows me to be "hungry" for bigger mileage once the trails start to thaw out. I'm also looking forward to trying a bit of swimming this winter to try something new.
5. Don't be scared of the dark. Headlamps are so light and bright these days that heading out before the sun has come up or just after it has gone down really isn't too bad. It kind of feels like a little adventure and you'll be surprised how great you feel once you get back.

However, my big advice is, keep the wheels greased. If you give up running all winter, you are much more likely to get injured or become grumpy with yourself once you have "committed" to running again. You don't have to run the same amount in the winter as you do in the summer but you want to maintain a good base fitness that you can then build upon once the spring arrives. Find out what motivates you? Snowshoe running? Cross training? A winter race? Getting a new running outfit? Whatever it takes, keep up your running and just try and find some new angles that will keep you motivated and will improve your running going into the new year. That's my two cents...

Rod B.


Chelsea said...

My little secret to exercising in the gym is to get a good book on my iPod. It makes me look forward to exercising!

leslie said...

Sign up for an early spring race ~ now!