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Salvaging your winter training for spring goals

salvaging your winter runningMy training officially started last week for my spring half marathon — as of today, I have only 11 weeks to go! Unfortunately, the last two weeks have buried our area in snow and sleet, so getting in actual timed workouts without a treadmill has been difficult. No, nearly impossible. Instead, I’ve been focusing on perceived effort and just getting in the miles, no matter my pace.

We still have a month or two left of possible winter weather. So, while I can’t necessarily choose what the conditions will be on any given day, I’ve made a pledge to myself to get in the best quality training possible with what I’ve got. Taking lemons and making lemonade, so to speak.

Ah, lemonade. That makes me think of summer! Daydreams aside, here’s how I’ve modified the following workouts to salvage my training:

Fartleks are a great option when the roads and sidewalks are less than ideal. My coach also calls them “leg speed” or “speed play,” if that’s terminology you might be more familiar with. Though my plan outlines I should try these intervals by running 1 minute fast and then jogging 1 minute recovery, for example, the roads have dictated another approach.

Instead, I run a hard effort for as long as the sidewalks might allow (usually between 30 seconds and even 2 minutes, if I’m lucky) and then I recover on the more tricky, treacherous stuff and hurdle those snowbanks. Whatever ends up happening, I start with a 10-15 minute warmup and finish with an equal length cool down.

Hill repeats, as I’ve written about before, are definitely a secret weapon if you’re looking to get faster for your spring races. Bad news: They can be tough in the snow and ice if you pick one certain hill and have to run back down it again and again. I did it recently, and definitely slipping jogging downhill. Ouch!

However, you can still get in an amazing incline workout by simply choosing a hilly area in your neighborhood and running a few loops of it. I try to make my effort going up the hill moderately hard and then really slow my pace going down — even walk — if things are slick. In addition, if it’s snowing, I favor fewer, longer hills that are more gradual in nature — they tend to also have more gradual downhills, making them a safer option.

Long runs aren’t nearly as appealing when the weather is rough. I’d be lying if I told you I’ve completed all the long runs I’ve intended to do over the last couple months. It isn’t always the road conditions that keep me indoors either. A lot of it is just mental burnout from dealing with the elements day after day.

I’ve had more success getting in double-digits runs if I make sure to go when the weather is nice. This has meant shifting the day sometimes or making time to run when it’s sunny and warmer (I’m an evening runner). If I see a storm is in the forecast, I plan accordingly and get in my run before the weather starts. Otherwise, I leave my watch at home. Paces are slow, but at least the miles are completed and counted toward my goal!

How are you salvaging your training in this weather?

Written by  Ashley Marcin.

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