Physical Preparation During the Winter for Summer Runners
It’s winter. Days are shorter, sidewalks are frozen, and your mood and motivation to train vary according to the weather. For many runners, winter is synonym with off-season. However, they would gain from revising their approach. Instead of risking losing what they have acquired, adepts of running in the summertime could use that time and perform physical preparation to prepare for their favourite sport. By doing so, not only can they avoid regression, but they could also improve their previous performances.
Of course, physical preparation includes cardiovascular sessions. Since we have many months available before your competition (or your training season), this allows for varying the type of training you perform in order to improve various cardiovascular qualities. A good planning regarding this subject will enable you to optimize your level of performance according to your objectives.
Whether it is to maintain or lose weight, training during winter helps make weight management easier. To give you a frame of reference, a runner who burns around 600 calories three times per week will spend the equivalent of two pounds of fat per month!
More muscle mass
An appropriate physical preparation for running includes muscular exercises. Simply running during the winter in prevision of being better for the summer is far from optimal. When you run, your body uses lipids (fats), carbs (sugars), but also proteins (your muscles!) as energy sources. To get a mental picture, if you don’t “tell” your body that you need to preserve your muscles, you risk eating them away. Muscle-development exercises send a signal to your body that you want to, at least, maintain what you have. This way, if your body draws from your muscles as fuel, it will at least have the decency to favour protein synthesis during the following rest period, in order to pay off what it borrowed… sometimes with interests (more muscle mass than previously)! So take advantage of the winter to ensure that your body is toned!
Who says more muscle mass usually says more strength. And the stronger you are, the easier it will become to perform your daily activities. Imagine you have an identical twin. Same height, same weight, same cardiovascular capacity, aside from one particular detail: your twin’s legs are able to generate much more power. If you run at the same speed, not only will he be less out of breath, but if you race, he will be able to beat you because each stride will represent less effort for him. Because everything becomes easier, this also means he will be able to run for longer periods than you. Better than you at everything… even if he is your identical twin!
Because a stable muscle structure provides more strength, a proper physical preparation will include proprioception exercises. Perform a test. For example, try performing as many push-ups as you can on a mattress. Then, do the same thing on the floor. You will perform much more. Why? The ground is more stable than the mattress, which improves your efficiency. Therefore, having a better balance will make you more resistant to fatigue and will reduce your risk of injuries. Don’t hesitate to integrate stability exercises for your lower body, for example by performing BOSU squats.
Better chances of being in it for the long run
The best way of not giving up training is to never really stop. Stopping for a few months is giving yourself the opportunity of not starting again during the next season. Even if you have to reduce the frequency of your workouts in comparison to what you do in the summer, aim at least to maintain what you have.
Of course, there are many things you can work on and it can be a little bit overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to meet with a kinesiologist and/or nutritionist. The will be able to help you get a clearer picture.
Have a great year 2014!
By Xavier Jutras