Tips To Training For A Spring Race In The Winter

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Signing up for a spring race means winter training. This helps prevent the winter blues. Tips To Training For A Spring Race In The Winter

It’s easy to sign up for races from the comfort of our warm home in the winter. But then we actually need to get out there and start training in the winter. Despite the cold, snow, and busyness of the holidays, it absolutely is possible to commit to a training for a spring race. Runners just need to best tips to make this winter training a success.

Signing up for a spring race a great idea because we are almost forced to run all winter long. Sometimes we lose the urge to get out there once the colder weather moves in and becomes the new norm. But then there are times when we can’t shake out the restlessness in our legs and we just need to get out for a run. The chilly air feels great and our passions are reignited as warm as it feels sitting next to the fireplace afterward.

Then the holidays come and we have to find a way to work in our training schedule around hosting and attending parties on the weekends, shopping, and then let’s not forget about those snow storms that trap up inside. But consider this your guide to surviving the spring training schedule during the winter.

Why Start Training In The Winter?

Many might think it’s best to take a season off and let the legs or drastically cut back the mileage to recover from the summer and fall race circuit. And while that is a good idea for some based on overall goals, certain spring races require winter training.

Runners should train for at least 12 weeks for a race. This is to be able to build up mileage gradually without taking on too much too soon for the body which can cause an injury. The good news is that two of the three runs per week are typically shorter runs. This works up to about 6 miles which make them easy to do on a treadmill for those days of inclement weather. It also isn’t so bad to get a quick 3 or 4 miles in before work or when it’s really cold out because the miles fly by. Just make sure to layer up and dress warmly.

Depending on when the race is, early winter running means the cold weather isn’t so bad and there aren’t inches of snow packed on. This makes running a whole lot easier. It’s towards the end of training that can be tricky. On the contrary, some need to start spring race training mid-winter when the weather can be messy. The good news here is by the time of the race the weather should start to warm up and the risk of snowfall decreases.

Winter Training Necessity: The Treadmill

As much as many don’t want to hear it, we have to learn to embrace the treadmill. Of course, it isn’t the optimal way to train for us who prefer the fresh air, but sometimes the treadmill is a necessity in the winter. We are talking those beyond freezing days, or these bad snow storms that make getting a scheduled run in impossible.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash.

For those who have a treadmill at home, great. It’s time to get the laundry off it and use it for its intended purpose. Plan out the week so that most of the runs or outdoors and every so often a treadmill run is done. Use tempo runs for the treadmill to make the time go by fast. Try to find ways to look forward to this one treadmill run. A good idea is to start on the treadmill as early as the first week to get used to it and not totally dread it when it comes to having to run on it.

For those who don’t have a treadmill at home, this is where a gym membership becomes a life savior. Being a member of a gym has two benefits. First, its access to treadmills. Plus it serves as a way to cross train such as using weights or attending classes offered at the gym. Then there is the whole motivation aspect of being in a gym atmosphere. It’s easier to workout indoor at a gym then braving the cold some days.

Running Through The Long Winter

Training throughout the winter for a spring race typically means its a half or full marathon the runner is preparing for. That calls for at least one long run a week. And runs can feel really long when out in the dead of winter. We have to learn to adjust to the changing season. This means mentally and physically prepping for the changing in our long runs. Focus on the commitment made and know that the hard work needs to be put in now to reap the rewards in the spring. Training in the winter takes disciple and dedication to show up and perform.

Physically, performance may increase. Winter running does wonder for the body. Running in the cold strengthens the heart since it works harder to pump the blood. Along with the increase of heart endurance (think of it as a healthy workout for the heart), running in the cold also burns more calories and fat. That’s because the body taps into its source it uses to keep warm. We often can run faster and longer in the colder weather, which also leads to more calories burned.

The thing to know about running all winter long is that the runner does get used to the weather. And the not so cold days feel like great days to run when compared to those more blustery days. This is a good time to link up with a running club or find a running buddy for that accountability factor. Having someone along for the run does wonder for motivation.

We can’t stress enough about the importance of proper winter running gear. But long runs mean the runner might be too warm. Layer up in order to be able to take off a jacket if need be. On milder days, skip the fleece-lined pants. Keep a spare shirt in the car to change into something dry post-run to avoid catching a cold.

It’s also important to drink enough water. Hydrating is just as important as when running in the spring and summer. The only difference is the runner won’t be as noticeably thirsty. Keep that water bottle on hand for the long run.

Plan The Run

Photo: Clique Images

It’s important to watch the weather, keeping an eye out for any upcoming storms to make proper plans. Winter runners need to be flexible and know they can’t always run a Monday, Wednesday, Saturday (if those are their running days)  if there is a snow storm that gets in the way. Learn to adapt and have a backup plan.

This also might mean being creative with when we run. Early morning runs are easy to get done in the summer, but in the winter it is dark and icy. Run mid-day when the sun is the strongest if possible.

The Best Winter Training Tips

  • Do short runs on the treadmill and save braving the winter elements for the long run.
  • Take longer to warm up to get the body ready for the run to prevent injury.
  • Choose a spring race that doesn’t require training throughout the entire winter.
  • Limit the number of small races to focus on the large goal when battling winter blues.

What To Expect For A Spring Race After Winter Training

Just because technically the winter is over doesn’t mean the winter ended. Depending on where the runner lives and where they are racing, the spring race might still include cold temperatures and dare we even say snow. This is why training in these conditions is key in order to be properly prepared for anything.

Rain is often common in the springtime, so there could be a high chance of showers on race day. Don’t shy away from this weather while training unless there is a heavy downpour, thunder, heavy winds, and lightning. Safety should always come first.

Besides questionable weather, other things to expect is the sense of pride after finishing. This feeling never changes no matter what season the race is in, but running a spring race has perks. It sets the runner up for a great “race season,” getting the big goal accomplished and out of the way to enjoy smaller goals and races like 5ks and 10ks. It is also a popular time for half marathons. This is a great way to get in that marathon training or to set a goal of betting the runner’s last time. Doing a half early in the spring allows for enough time to recover and compete in another one before the heat of the summer rolls in.

In short, expect to start racing for the next few months now that the weather starts to improve. Once the summer comes, runners will appreciate putting in the hard work all winter long to make it a great year for running.