It may not feel like it in the Northeast but spring is officially here!
How did your training go over the winter? Did you stay consistent or take some time off? Did freezing temperatures keep you indoors? Didn’t get in as many training days as you’d hoped?
Now is the time to put the winter behind you, tie those laces, and get back on the roads! Here are my tips as you start to gear up for spring training and summer road races:
· Buy new shoes!
The spring is a great time to start with a fresh pair of shoes. Most running shoes can handle about 300-400 miles. Running mechanics and foot strike can alter the life of your shoes. Visit a specialty running store to make sure you are fitted and buy the right shoe for you. [Also see: Pronation vs. Supination]
· New shoes? How about some new gear too?
Nothing motivates me like new running gear. Whether it’s that GPS watch you’ve always wanted or a super cute pair of cropped tights, treat yo self! You gotta look good for all those running selfies. Obvi.
· Aerobic Base Building
Now it’s time to get serious. If you have been logging little to no mileage this winter, you need to start building your aerobic base. Start out running at a comfortable pace with your heart rate in the 65-75% range. You may feel antsy and ready to up the intensity but in the first three to four weeks, there’s no need for speed. Re-establish your fitness by increasing aerobic capacity and build endurance; increase fat metabolism; develop slow twitch muscle fibers; and strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Stay in that aerobic/endurance training zone (65-75%) for the first few weeks and you will become a stronger, more efficient runner when summer road racing begins!
· Don’t Skip the Dynamic Warm Up
As you return to running, it’s important to remind our muscles how to run efficiently, especially when it’s time to run fast. A good dynamic warm up will include form-running drills that break down the running motions and train different segments. Spend about 10-15 minutes on a dynamic warm up before each and every run: High Knees/High Heels, Leg Swings, Power Stride, Skips, Quick Feet.
· Sign up for a Race
Another great way to get motivated this spring is to sign up for a race. Having a date on the calendar can help you set goals, focus on your training, and get you out the door every morning. #noexcuses
· Choose a Training Plan
You signed up for a race, now it's time to find a training plan. They can be a great tool as long as you choose a realistic plan based on your current training and goals. For further advice, read my blog post on Training Plans.
· Find a Running Buddy
Maybe they run with you, maybe they’re just there for support. Either way it’s nice to have a buddy or a team to help hold you accountable. They are there to motivate you on days that you’re struggling and to give you a high five after a great workout at the track. The running community is awesome. I have made many lasting relationships through running and have had the greatest conversations on long runs with friends.
· Go Long!
One of the most important runs of the week is the long run. The benefits of the long run are both mental and physical. Physically it forces your body to adapt to the training. It’s about the time spent on your feet and building endurance. My high school cross country coach always told us to run long at “Conversation Pace” - or anywhere from 30-90 seconds slower than normal. When you slow down, you’re training aerobically (body relies less on burning carbohydrates and rely more on burning fat for energy) to build endurance. We can train our bodies to stay in that aerobic zone longer before crossing over to anaerobic when no oxygen is available and we start to build up lactic acid.
· Don’t forget: Recovery
Recovery days reduce fatigue (mentally and physically), build strength, restore glycogen, and help keep us injury free. Our bodies need rest. You earned it so enjoy it! [Related: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness]