Saturday, October 29, 2011

Winter training comes early this year, it seems!

Eric and I apparently hadn't been checking the weather enough, because we missed the fact that there was a Nor'Easter headed our way this weekend. We decided to sideline our trip to see the fishies this weekend, which is probably a good idea. The Living Social coupon I have doesn't expire until January anyhow, so we've got time on our side.
Source: Weather Channel
8-12"
in October you say? Before Halloween? Greeeat...
P.S. Weather people stop creating words like "snowtober."
They sound stupid.
This early snow has me thinking pretty hard about my winter training season. Last year, I was filled with trepidation as winter approached. I was afraid that the cold, the snow and the ice would force my to sideline my fitness routine. I was afraid that I would grow weary of boring treadmill workouts and lapse back into my old couch potato ways. I shouldn't have been that worried because I escaped the winter season unscathed and actually emerged to PR in my first 5K of the season. Since then I've come up with a few basic winter training philosophies of my own to follow this year:
  • Each week is planned out in advance on Sunday, but there is no strict training plan to adhere too.
  • It's okay to scale back the number of  just runs each week from 4 to 3, in favor of cross training activities.
  • One run a week should be completed outdoors, and it's okay to all the other workouts on the treadmill.

You don't have to dread the treadmill!
Steady state workouts where you set the pace and the grade and then ignore it for the entire workout do have their place, in fact they're great long run substitutes in the winter. However, that being said, I think most of us would find it hard to get motivated to do steady state workouts for the entire winter.  My two favorite treadmill workouts look like this:
  • Easy (Base) Run:  I like to select the Random workout option if the treadmill has it and pick a constant speed. It sounds easy, but in reality, maintaining a consistent speed with differing grades is actually difficult. I like this workout because I think it helps me learn how to maintain a consistent speed over different and unpredictable grades.
  • Speedy Pyramid Run: I'll admit, this one can be a little annoying if I'm not really in the mood to do it. I warm up for one mile and then for the first half of the distance (or time) I pick a marker (0.10 mi or 1 minute, depending) and increase the speed each time I pass the given mark. After I've hit the halfway point, I use the same marker to decrease the speed back to my cooldown pace. It's hard to get bored on this one.
Easing Up
I use the winter time as a chance to ease up a little and not adhere strictly to any training plan. I end up doing a lot more lifting and resistance exercises to increase my overall fitness, and decrease my likelihood of injury.   I also have a tendency to generate more playlists and putz around with music in the winter because I end up using my iPod more frequently.

Outdoor Running, in the winter? Are you nuts?!
I actually enjoy running outside once a week. I usually pick a weekend day so I can run when there's still light. Sarah of Running On Words already has a great post up on how to enjoy outdoor running in the winter, so there's no need for me to compile a list. Check out her post here!