As Jack Frost is finally starting to back off and spring is getting closer, its time to get that pep back in your step and shake off the winter blues. For many runners, months of isolation on the treadmill or even a total hiatus from training has left your stride flat, your lungs heavy, and your motivation low. It's perfect time to get back in the groove and kickstart your running.
In this article, I'm going to give you a few tips on how you can get your running Mojo back quickly and set up a great season of running. But before I give you the goods, you need to do me one favour........focus forward. Don't bring any guilt into this new year and beat yourself up if you took your Adidas off the gas over the cold months. It happens and there's no time like the present to get refocused and make this a breakthrough year of running. Consider that you're a virtual pat on the back.......now let's get going.
As you get back into a more consistent training rhythm it's important to rebuild any base fitness you may have lost over the winter. This means that the bulk of your running miles should be at an easy pace. Don't get to fixated on your pace at first. You should listen to your body and let effort be your guide. Resist the urge to try and get your speed back quickly or you'll run the risk of running what I call "junk miles", which will only slow down your progress. In the video below I explain this in more detail.
Your lungs will come back quicker than your legs, which means that you will likely get the cardio base back fairly fast, but it will take a bit of time to get your muscle strength/stamina back, so if you go too hard you run the risk of setting up an early season injury. So relax. Get the easy miles in, and build a strong foundation of endurance that you can build the running season on.
Drills Pay The Bills
Your training plan should include a weekly dose of quality running drills. The goal here is to build strength, promote efficiency, program biomechanics and develop your stride. It's a good idea to spend 15 minutes, 1 or 2 times per weeks on running drills, which can be placed at the start of a workout.
The ABC drill is probably the most fundamental routine you can implement, which has a proven ability to enhance your stride and build your strength. Check out the video below if you need a demonstration on how to do these simple drills. (Note you should do 3 of each movement - 20-30 steps/each)
Strides are also another great drill that you can place at the end of your easy runs as you start to build back your spring fitness. They are simply short sprints at approximately 90-95% effort. Try doing 3-5 strides in 50m intervals, which will help to spin out the legs and get some speed coming back in your run.
Some soft tempo runs can be incorporated into your training plan, and you should look to do these no more than once every 7 - 10 days to start. The goal of these workouts is to build your anaerobic threshold and also get your legs used to some speed work again.
A classic Tempo Run where you spend a chunk of time at a threshold pace (15 - 30 mins) or Cruise Intervals are options, but you will want to back off the pace slightly until you're able to handle the intensity. Remember that the goal at the start of the training plan is to build a base. Don't immediately revert back to your pace ranges from the season prior when you were at your peak. Stay patient.
It's very typical to see a few extra pounds on the scale this time of year. You can thank the Christmas season and the extra time you spent on your couch hugging a bowl of chips in front of the fire watching movies. No judgement, it's really hard to stay disciplined on your diet over the winter.
But again the goal is to focus forward. It's a great time to get your diet back on track. Proper nutrition is essential to run well and enable your body to perform at its highest level. Here are a few tips that will help you get back in line:
1) Set a weight goal and timeline to get there.
2) Weigh yourself every morning and write it down every day.
3) Determine a daily calorie goal and track it using an app such as My Fitness Pal (You'll be surprised how many extra calories you can eliminate when you pay close attention)
4) Check out Noom - A powerful diet tool that shown major success.
Click the image below.
Check Your Wheels
It's a perfect time to get yourself some new kicks, wheels, sneaks, or for the borning people.....runners. Start your season with a professionally fitted pair of shoes and be sure that you're tracking your mileage after every run. Personally, I have multiple pairs on the go that I rotate through so that they wear out at different times. You should be shelving your runners after about 400 miles as they may not feel like it but they're broken down and need to be replaced.
New Shoe Bonus - There's just something about a new pair of shoes that helps to get you psyched up for a run. So even if your old shoes still have some miles left on them, a new shiny pair is a great way put a little extra pep in your step.....just watch the puddles.
Get your race plan together now and set yourself up for a well planned out season. Pick 1 or 2 key races over the course of the year and sign up. Lock in your commitment, and you'll find that it's a great way to get the motivation to get back to business.
It's also important to establish an annual training plan so you can effectively map out a well-structured program. Need some help, find yourself a good coach (I know one :-) ) who can help you lay out the pieces of an effective annual training plan. This takes away the risk of picking last-minute races and having no strategy on your training. Flying by the seat of your pants will only result in mediocre results and a higher likelihood that you will lose motivation.
What is your running goal this year!? Comment below and tell me where your training is going to take you!