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December 26th, 2015

Why It’s Important To Build a Solid Foundation During the Winter

Winter, a time for creating strength to avoid the strain of the upcoming season.

The months of December through February are key months of preparation for the upcoming running and triathlon season. If you have a spring or summer race on the calendar in 2016, these months represent the first phase of training for that race. It’s the best time to build a foundation before jumping into specific race preparation workouts.

Just finished a late fall marathon? Consider it a transition to the spring in maintaining some fitness and “cleaning up” your imbalances.

Running and triathlon are sports in which we dose a certain amount of stress through the body to create an adaptation in fitness and improved performance. However, too much stress can result in strain.

When the body is not prepared for the stress of a training plan, injury risk increases greatly.

The last few months of a training plan leading up to a key race often consist of two to three “quality” workouts per week. In preparation for these hard months of training, one must be adequately prepared. Incorporating mobility and strength work into your winter training plan is crucial for improved performance.

Assuming you’re injury free, endurance training can and should continue during these months. Depending on experience and skill, run and triathlon workouts vary during the winter — but if there’s one thing you should be doing, it’s focusing on your limitations.

Been told to increase your running cadence? Now’s a great time to work on that.

Not a great swimmer? Get in the pool.

Lacking power on the bike? Get on that trainer and get to work! Most importantly, balance these limitations with sport-specific strength training.

I agree with the philosophy that if you want to be a better runner, you need to run. Swimming makes you a better swimmer, etc. However, strength training results in physiologic adaptations that allow you to tolerate the stress and force that you will put your body through in training for endurance sports.

Patients often tell me that it’s hard to fit strength work in during race season with all of the other scheduled workouts. They say that strength training has the tendency to leave them more sore than a run or tri workout.

During the winter, you have more time in your training schedule, and your body will adapt to the strength workouts as it does to speed workouts in the spring. As sport-specific training increases, you can incorporate fewer or shorter strength training sessions into the plan without affecting key workouts due to soreness. You’ll have learned what works for you, what your limitations are and how long your key strength exercises take.

During the winter, I recommend at least 2 – 3 strength sessions a week that focus on stressing running muscles. Not sure how to target the running muscles? Join us for a winter functional strength series or consult one on one with one of our PTs to set up a program.

Clam shells and side lying hip abduction work are great for folks who want to have strong glutes while lying on the couch, but most of us want strong glutes while running. You need to challenge these muscles while standing up on the floor working all phases of muscle contraction and reactive forces that the ground and your own body weight provide.

Lastly, use these sessions to learn about yourself. Ever wonder why you get left leg injuries more often than right? Try some single-leg squat or plyometrics on the left vs. right, and then compare. You may find an imbalance in strength and mobility that you can address now before you really get going with training.

Have a great winter! And Get Strong!

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