Spring training can be daunting after a long winter lull. I’ve found that it’s essential to observe training cycles and embrace the winter lull to allow you to recover and refocus on spring goals.
Whether you are just beginning a running program or returning after a winter break, here are my five steps to set yourself up for success:
1. Embrace the process – Be easy on yourself! The first run back after a break can be humbling. I find myself being harsh and critical on myself during my first training runs of the season. My self-talk is always judgmental while I’m huffing and puffing during what was an easy distance in peak running season. RUN HAPPY and know that you are setting a goal for yourself and working to obtain it. Use positive self-talk and be kind to yourself. Keep reminding yourself that it’s a starting point, not a roadblock and every run after this one will be better and easier.
2. Consistency is Key – Make time for fitness every day and you will succeed. Making an effort 30-60 min every day to run or cross-train will increase your overall fitness and provide you with the results you want. Consistent workouts, staying focused on goals, and keeping a positive attitude will help you move your fitness mountain.
3. Stay Balanced – Create a weekly calendar that includes active days, active recovery days, and rest days. I recommend beginning your training with a calendar that designates two days a week as “active recovery” and “rest” days. On active recovery days, pick an activity other than running; ride your bike, take your dog for a hike, or take a yoga class. Using active recovery keeps your body moving, helps you stay fresh, works different main muscle groups, and helps battle any soreness from running. Your rest day should be a COMPLETE rest day where you don’t exercise at all. This allows your body to rest and recover. Keeping a balanced training schedule will help you feel ready for your next long run, keep your body refreshed, and battle boredom.
4. Nutrition – I’m not into fad diets but do believe in eating whole foods – fruits, vegetables, organic meats, and avoiding processed foods. Eating clean, whole foods is a simple and effective approach to fueling your body for performance and overall well-being. You should always be mindful of hydration, drinking 64oz of water every day and more on warm days or long runs. Carry a water bottle or use a hydration pack if you are cranking out serious miles. This helps your body to cool more efficiently, makes organs work more effectively, eliminates toxins, and boosts your metabolism.
5. Stretch – Always stretch before and after each run. Don’t forget it, don’t neglect it. It’s a good habit and will protect you from overuse injuries.
Now that you have some steps to follow, you can plan out your running plan. Here’s a great example of a Beginner Running Program:
Monday – 30 Minute Run/Walk. If don’t already run or have an existing fitness base, start slow and easy. Start by walking one minute, then running one minute for the full 30 minutes. Make sure to do some dynamic stretching before your run to prep your body. Finish your run with static stretches. You can learn more about different types of stretching and optimal times to practice them here.
Tuesday – Active Recovery Day. Pick a different activity – go on a hike, ride your bike, lift weights.
Wednesday – 30 Minute Run, if you are early in your training plan, Wednesday’s workout should be similar to Monday in a run/walk format. Work towards completing a full run without any walk-breaks.
Thursday – Active Recovery Day. Repeat from Tuesday or pick a different form of exercise, it’s your choice. I like to lift weights to help my overall strength or take a yoga class so that I’m rejuvenated for my next run.
Friday – 30 Minute Run, same as Monday and Wednesday. Make sure to log your mileage and time after each run. This will help you stay motivated and show your improvement from week to week.
Saturday – 30 Minute Run. It might seem monotonous, but you are building your overall running fitness, strength, and endurance. If you need to switch it up with your Saturday run, ask around to find out what your local running community offers. Finding a women’s running group, a running buddy, or local trails to run that suit your level are ideal ways to stay accountable and can be a welcomed change of scenery.
Sunday – COMPLETE REST DAY, let your body recover and prep for the coming week.
Jenny Nichols is an ultra-runner, small business owner, wife, mom, Stonewear Ambassador, and all around adventurous, happy, and inspiring Stonewear women. You can follow her here and check out her rad handmade jewelry, Mountain Prima Donna, by visiting her Etsy Store.