Everyone’s season starts and stops at a different point in the year, and for me the buildup always begins in the fall. I love fall. And I love fall/winter training; the style of workouts, the crispness in the air, the process of setting new goals, feeling reinvigorated from the post track season break, and the eagerness that comes with it all. But it’s important to keep the eagerness in check, and it helps me to follow these important rules as I ease back into my training.
1. Be smart in your mileage build up -- don’t build too quickly:
My first full week back running, I take my goal mileage (that I eventually want to hit), cut it in half, and start there. That being said, whatever the goal mileage number is, I never start higher than 40 miles per week. When the mileage is lower, my weekly mileage will build relatively quickly, and then as I get closer to my goal mileage, my weekly increases will be more conservative. I also am careful to not increase density, intensity, and volume in the same week.
***Everyone responds to build ups differently. Some people can handle a quicker build up and some people require a slow build up. Learn what works for you. ***
2. Massage and physical therapy:
Stay on top of the little niggles and naggles that pop up. Meet with your PT, find any weak areas you have, and make a plan to get them strong. It’s best to be ahead of the game in this category, and early season training is the perfect time of year to put a lot of time and focus on that.
3. XT! And have fun with it:
Now is the time of year to safely add cross training into your weekly workouts. Mountain bike, swim, rollerblade, xc ski - dealer's choice here. It’s great to work some of the small stabilizer muscles you don’t use when running, and easy to pack in cross training workouts when you’re building fitness and still far from racing.
4. Get in the gym:
We do a lot of strength work and mobility in the fall and I think it’s really good for us. We focus on full body strength, mobility, and coordination; all the mortar that helps build a strong house. To use the words of Collier, “Stacking bricks without glue is just playing a game of Jenga.” Since our training intensity isn’t very high in the fall and early winter, it allows us to put more of an emphasis on gym work. This focus gets our bodies ready for the increase of intensity later in the year.
If you didn’t know, naps are one of the best tools for recovery. There is a lot of science to support this. All you need is 30 minutes.
6. Run in cool places:
Depending on where you live (for us it’s Bend, OR), a lot of really cool trails are only accessible for about 30% of the year. Once the snow comes, those trails won’t be runnable until July. The trail might be feel slow with plenty of hills and twists and turns, but embrace it. Forget about the time on your watch; your body doesn't know the difference.
7. Stay off the track (at first):
I really, really like being off the track in the fall. Track workouts can be important and helpful (especially if there is an indoor track season looming ahead), but embrace the unmeasured. Mentally check out on how far your intervals are, and run for time.
We do a lot of workouts at a place called Riley Ranch. The loop is about 1480 meters. An interval usually consists of one loop, and we call it 1500m, but casually talk about them like miles….I love it!
8. Don’t take things too seriously:
Spring races aren’t won in November. Forget your watch one day. Or bring your watch, but realize it’s going to run out of battery five minutes into your run. Forget your heart rate monitor. Show up with just a heart rate monitor, but no watch. Or if you’re like me, show up with an almost dead watch and no heart rate monitor...a lot.
Fall/winter training in a nutshell: Be smart. Have fun. Happy training!