Ask Coach Bradley - Training Through The Winter
Whether you are part of our CARA training programs, working towards your next 5k PR, or a beginning runner CARA Sr. Director of Training and Head Coach Tim Bradley is here to answer your training questions! Q: I struggle to train in the winter, but this year I really want to get a jump start on my training so I am ready for my marathon later in the year. What are some of the training essentials I should start doing now?
A: This time of year is always challenging due to weather, darkness and feeling like your goal race is light years away. However, it is a great time to get organized and plan your training and racing schedule for the rest of the year, along with taking the baby steps to get a jump on your target race. Some essentials to consider include the following…
Whether you decide to run a spring marathon or not, a large majority of marathon training plans start with a long run between 6-10 miles in the first week depending on ability level. That gives a crystal clear target for how much of a base you will need before you start your formal marathon training plan. If you are starting from scratch you can ease your way into building your long run up to those numbers. Adding 1 mile per week for two weeks and then backing off before you build up again, is a great way to approach increasing your long run. Running as little as 2-3 x per week is better than waiting till later in the year to get started. Try to avoid taking the entire month of January and February and you will find yourself with some miles under your belt when the weather and daylight situation improves in March and April.
This is typically on the New Year’s resolution list for lots of runners, to strength train more. Strength training has numerous benefits, specifically, injury prevention is the primary purpose.
Running is a largely aerobic activity, but your ability to manage the repetitive impact of running and stay injury-free, is aided by strengthening the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. You don’t have to have an elaborate program to get started. Something as simple as push-ups and planks 2-3 x per week can be a great place to start. The main point is to make it part of your routine from the start of the year, so you are not trying to fit it in when you increase your training later in the year.
This has been significantly more challenging over the last few years, but having your target races mapped out early in the year really helps focus your running and realize the time frame you have to train. If one of your races happens to get canceled, you can always schedule a time trial or simply just do your race distance at tempo pace. The main thing is to have a specific target date for a race effort and have it planned out early in the year.
Start Small But Think Big Picture
A positive mental approach includes connecting the dots between the small steps you can take in the winter to stay active and lay the foundation for later in the year. Spring and Fall races can seem a long way off right now, but realizing where you are at in the process and where you are trying to go is essential. It is also good to have self “check-ins”. Whether it be weekly, monthly or quarterly to see what progress you have made or what disruptions to your training have taken place. At the end of the day, consistency is huge in running. You don’t have to be perfect but you want to be able to see tangible steps and progress towards your 2022 goals.