Spring Training: Keep your eye on the prize
It is coming, Spring that is. It’s been a long cold winter and, despite the gym and treadmill, it’s been difficult time for most of us to run regularly. At this point, you can feel the desire to move and be active. As Spring warms the air and the earth, it’s easy to get carried away in enthusiasm and inadvertently do things in our excitement that set us back instead of move us forward. Injury is of course the big culprit. Having personal goals to work towards is great. But, when the juices are flowing, it’s easy to get lured into training regimens that could side-swipe or sideline you.
Spring training is a lot like waking up in the morning; the first thing you naturally do is check in with yourself. How does your body feel? Are you stiff? Did you sleep well? Do you have any appointments today? Once you’ve figured out where you’re starting from, you slowly begin to move and gradually pick up speed as your mind and body can handle it. Spring training should be like that, but on a larger scale.
Know your goal and warm up slowly
Know what you want out of Spring training, then you won’t get lured in by everyone else’s ideas.
Start with an honest assessment of where you’re at before launching headlong into a program. It keeps distractions at bay and setbacks to a minimum. If your training has been “less-than-optimal” over the winter months it makes a lot of sense to begin with a good technique review. By spending the time up front, cleaning up your biomechanics, you’ll build confidence and core strength as a strong foundation for distance, and eventually speed. As your technique improves, with focused practice, it becomes easier to run longer and faster.
Finishing your first half marathon is different than doing your best 10K time. Running consistently four days a week for a total of 16 miles is not the same goal as being able to keep up with your neighbor. Speed goals are different than distance goals. Weight loss and maintenance goals are different than speed goals.
If speed is a goal, wonderful, but don’t look for it by pushing hard, especially early in the season. Look for it by following this formula: form first, then distance and finally speed.
If consistency is your goal, then don’t run your first 5K event as fast as you can. Use it as a warm up for the season. Consider using the Chi Walk-Run program to make sure you can be consistent without getting injured.
If marathon or half marathon training is the plan, make sure you have plenty of time to build that distance with intelligence. A smart plan will save your body.
Always begin by taking a close look at where you’re at right now. Keep your eye on the real prize - the one that comes from you and not from some external whim of the moment. That real prize might even come unexpectedly, when June, September and December come around and you realize you’ve never felt better about your running or yourself.