BEAT THOSE WINTER TRAINING BLUES

By Marshall Pickard

PART I — WORKOUTS FOR RUNNERS

So it's winter in the Northeast and we've already had a winter bomb cyclone and temperatures that are at negative degrees, without the wind chill. So, that leaves many of us stuck indoors to train for our next race season.

Most winter workouts should focus on recovery, improving weaknesses, and building strength. This is also a good time to incorporate yoga or cross-training. However, most of us still want to run (without the numbing mindlessness of the dreaded treadmill) or bike without growing saddle sore and bored. So here are some workout ideas and alternatives to keep you fresh and on track for a successful season after the thaw. 
 

Cross-Training

As runners, we always embrace other forms of training. Winter is a good time to add cross-training to your workouts. There are many benefits to adding cross-training. Injury prevention is considered the biggest benefit of cross training, but it’s not the only one. Cross-training is great for rehabilitating injuries, improving overall fitness, promoting active recovery, staying motivated, and rejuvenating the mind and body after a long season of running.  Cross-training has also shown the ability to prolong your running career.

There are several cross-training activities you can take up during the winter. Swimming, strength training, cycling or spinning, yoga, fitness classes, Crossfit, strength training, form classes for runners, skiing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or other endurance activities.
 

Spinning/Cycling

Training on an indoor trainer or taking a spin class has many benefits for runners. First, cycling is a great low-impact activity that takes the stress off of runners legs. Sometimes, an often needed break for some runners. Also, high-intensity cycling interval training has been shown to improve runners VO2 max and improve their 5K run time. The European Journal of Sports Science found that triathletes who did six high-intensity interval cycling sessions (that included five-minute sprints) over three weeks improved their 5K run time by up to two minutes and increased their VO2 max by approximately 7%. Increased VO2 max means you’ll be able to sustain exercise for longer periods — important for runners wanting to do longer races such as ½ marathons and marathons.

Also, consider signing up for a month or two of Zwift. Zwift offers virtual rides and training plans. Plus, you can link up with other riders to keep it social and fun.THE CYCLING WORKOUT.

 

The Dreadmill (Treadmill)

treadmill.jpg

The treadmill need not be your enemy. You can still have effective workouts that boost endurance, speed, and strength. Now, I admit getting through a long run can be difficult, but there are some things that can make it easier. Remember too, Chris Clark trained in Alaska on a treadmill and was able to shave her marathon PR by 7 minutes on her winning the 2000 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Some tips when running on the treadmill to stave off boredom include, binge-watching your favorite series or movie on Netflix, cover the control screen, play some pumped up music, books on tape, add variety to your run, add elevation, simulate your race, run with a buddy, and add surges/sprints. This variety of activities will keep you focused and sharp until spring thaws out the winter freeze. STRENGTH/HILL WORKOUT

 

INDOOR CYCLING/SPIN WORKOUT

This high-intensity interval workout is perfect for getting the heart rate up and improving your fitness.

WARMUP
5-10 minutes easy spin.

SET 1
5 sets of 1:00 minute HARD cycling (You want to be at 90% maximum effort with a high cadence as you pedal) followed by 1:00 minute of EASY spin as recovery.

Recover with 5 minutes easy spinning after the last set.

SET 2
5 sets of :30 seconds HARD cycling (You want to be at 90% maximum effort with a high cadence as you pedal) followed by :30 seconds of EASY spin as recovery.

COOL DOWN
5-10 minutes easy spin.


TREADMILL STRENGTH WORKOUT (HILLS)

Here is a treadmill workout that builds strength while adding hills. Each set has three :45 second to 1:00 minute runs at progressively harder inclines. These can be modified by decreasing the incline, time, or number of sets based on your current fitness level. Think about your form too. When running uphill you want to do the following:

1. “Lean into the hill.” However, that doesn’t mean bending your torso at a 90-degree angle. Your goal is a slight forward lean with the lean coming from your ankles. 2. Think about “running tall,” with your head, shoulders, hips, and ankles aligned. 3. Look ahead rather than down. 4. You’ll use your arms more as you lift your knees, but keep your shoulders and arms relaxed, and the insides of your wrists passing near your waist.

WARMUP
5-10 minutes easy at flat to 1% incline (keep your pace steady and your heart rate in Zone 1)

SET ONE
Run at steady pace for :45 seconds to 1:00 minute each at a 3%, 4% and 6% percent incline.

Recovery Jog: 2 minutes at 0% incline.

SET TWO
Run at steady pace for :45 seconds to 1:00 minute each at a 4%, 5% and 6% percent incline.

Recovery Jog: 2 minutes at 0% incline.

SET THREE
Run at steady pace for :45 seconds to 1:00 minute each at a 5%, 6% and 7% percent incline.

Recovery Jog: 2 minutes at 0% incline.

SET FOUR
Run at steady pace for :45 seconds to 1:00 minute each at a 7%, 6% and 5% percent incline.

Recovery Jog: 2 minutes at 0% incline.

SET FIVE
Run at steady pace for :45 seconds to 1:00 minute each at a 6%, 5% and 4% percent incline.

Recovery Jog: 2 minutes at 0% incline.

COOL DOWN
5-10 minutes easy at 0% incline.