Winter Goals: by Dewey Peacock
Winter is upon us, whether that gets you excited about it or not. It’s a blessing in my mind to live in an area that ensures you need to change your normal habits, even if only a little. I really think we could all take the next few (ok more than a few) months to make ourselves better runners, and even more so better athletes. I hope in this article I can give you some direction on where to take your training and how to set some goals for the next year.
First things first, I would pick some time in the next month to rest and recover. At least a few days, if not a full week. Go for some walks, clean out your garage, and catch up on some of the things you know you don’t attend to otherwise. I’d say plan on less days if you’re not doing a ton of running or general working out, closer to a week if you’ve had a real busy year of training and racing. Our bodies and our minds need periodic breaks and I absolutely encourage taking a break before injury or burnout forces one.
The next thing to look at is how to generally set your training up for the following year. To keep things simple, this is how I would look at each training week and what you should include: One speed day, one long run, one full and one“half” strength days, and the rest filler. In between should be very easy runs, preferably social ones, that include a healthy dose of stretching and mobility work.
Your speed day should fall somewhere in the middle of the week, enough days away from your long run day to feel some freshness in your legs. I have a few general considerations for you on how to approach this day. Don’t run your intervals all out, jog very slowly in between reps, and spend more time in the year doing short intervals than long ones. Building running economy through shorter fast efforts will have profound effects on every running speed. This is also a great day to do a shorter strength program which will allow you to get more rest on your easier days.
The long run should be done on the closest matched terrain to whatever races you have coming up. Running in the Ridge Run or one of the Rut events? Practice your mountain prowess in the mountains on those long runs. Running a½ or Full Marathon on the roads? Run on mostly roads (although as much dirt as possible is still recommended). If your generally racing shorter races you can get by with 60-90 minutes, but the longer your races are, the more 2+ hour runs you’re going to need to get comfortable with.
Finally, the strength day. While I mentioned doing some work on your speed day, I think dedicating a solid day to doing a full body strength and mobility program is essential for long term health and success. I think prioritizing strength more in the off season with an extra day can really set you up well for later in the year where racing is a higher priority and you can get by on less strength work. Be gradual with your programs, don’t try to kill yourself with your workouts and feel sore all the time because that won’thelp you in the long run. Being a little tired and a little sore is good, but with all training you want to be able to do it consistently and at a level that you can absorb in the long term.
Keeping things simple with this sort of checklist of weekly staple workouts will get you ready for most any type of race. Increase or decrease certain aspects to better reflect your goals (i.e. more speed and less volume for 5K races versus less speed work and more volume for longer races). Make sure to make every 3rd or 4th week a “down” week with less overall volume and intensity, and you will absolutely see yourself having a great 2020 racing season and hopefully beyond.