Millennium Running Club – New Year, New Focus: How to best utilize winter training months
Hope all of you are healthy and ready to begin a new year of running. So what should our training look like? We would like to see improvements made in our daily training effort and pace, as well as with our future race results. We need to look at the big picture, beginning with a goal race that is at least 12 weeks out while setting a realistic finish time for that race. Next we need to build an incremental plan that will get us there. Think of your race as the top or peak of a pyramid. All pyramids begin with a big base. The bigger the base, the higher the peak. So what does this mean in running terms? It is your weekly aerobic (conversational pace) mileage-not just one week, but week after week after week after week. Get the point? The more miles that we are able to run on a consistent weekly basis, the stronger we will become, both muscularly and cardiovascularly.] Research indicates that everyone’s fitness level will increase as weekly mileage increases from 10 to 20 to 30 to 40, up to 60 miles. Due to lifestyles, family, and work, not all of us will be able to run high mileage weeks. However, we all can increase our weekly mileage a little bit. If we are currently running 3 days per week, averaging 3 to 4 miles per day, perhaps we can add a 4th day per week, bringing our weekly mileage up to 15 miles. Once there, perhaps we can adjust one of our daily runs by adding 1 to 2 miles to it. Your schedule might look like this: 0 Monday, 4 Tuesday, 0 Wednesday, 4 Thursday, 0 Friday, 4 Saturday and 4 Sunday = 16 miles. The following week might look like 0, 4, 0, 4, 0, 6, 4 = 18. The next week may be 0, 4, 0, 5, 0, 7, 4 = 20. [The point is that we can all improve our race times with a small, incremental increase in mileage. Increased mileage strengthens your leg muscles, tendons, ligaments, and heart. It creates an increase in cardiac output (more O2), an increase in blood flow to the muscles, and more energy producing factories within the muscles. This adds up to faster race times.
While we continue to work on our aerobic base during the winter months, we will also want to work on our running mechanics including stride length and stride rate. This can be done by performing hill repeats once a week and “strides” two or more times per week. Better running mechanics promote a more efficient use of oxygen for all running speeds.
Our indoor workouts in the Dome will focus on this, by running short distances just a bit quicker than current race pace with ample recovery between each quick segment. Of course, we will continue to do a warm-up prior to each speed session that includes leg drills, dynamic stretches, and strides.