The winter months are typically a triathlete’s “off season.”  Sure, many athletes are active all year, but if you are looking to be a better, faster runner next season, this is a great time of year to start strategically planning your workouts so that you start the 2017 season as a more-conditioned athlete.  Here are some tips on how to become a better, faster runner no matter what level you are:

  1. Set Goals:  Think about what you want to accomplish in 2017; think big picture, not just what you want to do in your first race, but what you want to do throughout the season and even look into 2018 and 2019.  It has to have some meaning to you.  Think about the goal and the “why” behind it.  If you aren’t passionate or your “why” isn’t strong enough, it will be much harder to stick to your training to accomplish that goal.
  2. Slow Down: One of the biggest mistakes runners make is doing long runs too fast and fast runs too slow.  When doing your long runs, you want to do an “all-day” pace.  This is supposed to feel easy!  You should be able to hold a conversation during long runs.  Running alone?  Sing to yourself.  If you have to pause for a breath or cannot sing continuously, you are running too fast.
  3. Focus on Technique: Winter is a great time to work on your running technique.  Running requires a strong core and you can supplement your running with core strengthening moves such as planks.  You want to lean slightly forward from the hips without bending at the waist.  Another aspect to consider is your running cadence.  For most people, the ideal running cadence is 90 (or 180 steps per minute).  There are definitely exceptions, but this is a great target to shoot for.  Shorter, quicker steps will not only conserve energy, but can help you increase your pace as well as prevent injury.  Remember that your foot should be underneath you when it is planted, not stretched out in front of you.
  4. Mix It Up: Just like in any other sport, you want to have a variety of paces, distances and platforms with which you train on.  This means having shorter, interval workouts, tempo workouts as well as a longer, slower run.  Consider also changing up where you run.  A mix of roads, trails and treadmill runs will help you be a stronger, more versatile runner.
  5. Frequency vs. Duration: Unless you have a long race coming up in the next few months, you will benefit more from shorter, more frequent runs.  Get out and just run, not focusing so much on pace, but concentrate on that good form and enjoy the sport and all it has to offer.  Save those longer, endurance runs for when it fits more strategically within your racing season.  One mistake you do not want to make is to have too much mileage built up and then move into a peak training phase.  Without stepping back for a while, you increase your chances of becoming injured as well as over trained.

If you plan your running strategy now, you can become a stronger, faster runner by spring!  Not sure how to map this out?  Contact me and we can discuss putting together a solid training plan to help you have a successful 2017 season.

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