As the seasons change, it becomes harder to stick to your usual outdoor running routine – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If long runs are part of your running schedule, it can be especially difficult to get in those miles when temps dip and conditions aren’t conducive to logging outdoor miles.
But that doesn’t mean you should spend the winter months laying on the couch, nor does it mean you can’t keep up your endurance and the strides you have made throughout the rest of the year. There’s no reason to take a step backwards when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. You just need to change things up a bit so you come out of the season maintaining fitness and endurance levels enough so you’re not starting again from scratch when spring rolls around.
Build a solid foundation. When you’re not actively training for a marathon or half-marathon, you don’t need to be at peak performance. The goal, rather, is to maintain some percentage of the endurance you’ve already achieved during the training season so you have a solid foundation to build on when active training starts again. So instead of worrying about a rigid schedule that climbs in mileage and/or intensity each week, get in a longer run every few weeks and stay active in some way throughout the rest of the season and you’ll be fine.
Cross-train. It can get boring to do the same thing week after week all year long. Thankfully, we have seasons, and those seasons nudge us to change things up throughout the year. So, grab some cross-country skis if it’s snowing outside for a great workout. Don a pair of ice skates or go for a hike and throw snowballs. If going outdoors is not an option, spend time indoors doing cross-training activities to build strength, flexibility and endurance. As long as you’re not idle and you make your workouts count, you’ll be helping to maintain your running endurance.
Sign up now for a spring race. Let’s face it. It can be easy to succumb to the laziness that winter coldness and darkness bring out in even the best of us. But if you know you have a race looming on the horizon, it’ll be easier to stay motivated to maintain your endurance throughout the winter. Because you know if you don’t, you’ll be paying the price when your spring training routine starts up again.