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Caroline Varriale shares key principles of exercise and training for athletes taking a break from running this holiday season. Photo from

Posted in Blog, News, Performance Enhancement, Running.

December 16th, 2014

Getting Creative with Winter Training

For many people, winter is the time to take a break from running. Okay, yes there are those of us (myself included) who really like cold weather running. But let’s face it: there are plenty of days when it’s a freezing, slushy mess outside, and doing hill repeats on the ice in Central Park just isn’t going to happen.

The great thing is, there are plenty of awesome workouts to be had indoors in New York City. Whether it’s your off-season, reverse taper to a late winter race or even base building for a spring race, get creative with your cross training over the next few months.

Last month, I was inspired by several of my clients to purchase ClassPass. A number of people told me how they tried a new studio and enjoyed the change, or did a class that they’d never done before and discovered a great new type of workout for them.

I don’t usually go for group fitness classes. I tend to exercise on my own — and without a formal gym membership, I spend most of my time outside running, doing strength work at home or at Finish Line, cycling and practicing yoga. However, I’m well aware of the benefits of doing different types of exercise, not to mention being pushed to work harder by someone else.

So far, ClassPass has been a nice variation! From barre and rowing to different types of yoga, strength training, and pilates, it’s been fun trying out different workouts across the city.

As you plan your workout schedule this holiday season, keep the following principles of exercise and training in mind:

Off-Season Focus
If this is your off season from run training, it’s a great time to focus on those things that fall by the wayside during your regular season. Hips are always tight? Try a few different types of yoga classes and build your own routine to target your tightest areas. Glute strength is your issue? Pick up a new strength training class 2x per week. Balance is terrible? Foot strength and single leg balance are essential for runners; try yoga or barre class and get comfortable kicking off your shoes and really feeling your feet.

Re-Assess your Biomechanics
If you’re not in full training mode, now is a great time to look at your biomechanics and identify areas of asymmetry, tightness and/or weakness. If you’ve been dealing with a chronic injury or other issue, now is the time to get it checked out. Come in to Finish Line for a full evaluation, or take advantage of our free Peak Performance Analysis!

Strength in Variety
The body becomes stronger when it is able to adapt to a large variety of movement situations. Challenging yourself to new workouts is a great way to build strength because it activates your muscles and nervous system in different directions and with different loads.

Keep Running (remember: a little goes a long way)
For some people, all they want to do is run, and it’s hard to taper it down during the off season. For others, they don’t want to look at their running shoes for months after the marathon. Either way, it’s good to keep running even when you’re not in training — but remember: it doesn’t have to be a lot. Running fitness is best maintained when the intensity of your runs remains consistent; frequency and duration can decrease without a significant impact on running fitness. So shoot for a few shorter, faster runs, and don’t worry about keeping up a high weekly mileage.

Enjoy your Exercise
We can all admit that there are points during training when we hate running. This time of year is great to get back to basics and really enjoy your workouts. If there’s something you want to get back to doing, a new activity that you want to try, or if you just want to run without worrying about pace or miles, now’s the time to do it. Have fun with your winter training, and you will benefit the most!

Variety of movement is the best thing for your body. That is why we mobilize, stretch and strengthen in all three planes of motion. That is why a good training program includes a variety of speed/tempo runs, interval training, hill/terrain conditioning, etc. And that is why the best athletes are the most aware and adaptive athletes. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they use creative training to enhance their performance.

Help me train creatively this holiday season by posting your favorite ClassPass workouts in the comments below!

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