Coach’s Corner: Finding a Routine in Training
by Connor Hesselbirg, PT, DPT
When you have a goal or expectations for the year, you want to do what you can everyday to make sure you can accomplish it, especially with any sort of running goal. It takes weeks and months of training to be able to just make it to the starting line. Now that racing season is slowly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about ways to keep your training consistent.
Now, the easy answer can be to say, “just run everyday.” But unfortunately for practically everyone, that can be very hard to do. Whether it is because you are busy at work during peak training hours, having to take care of family members both young and old, or just feeling achy or borderline injured to run that day. So, in order to work around a busy schedule, there are some options you can take to increase your mileage and become a more consistent runner and athlete.
Find YOUR Optimal Time of Day
One factor you want to consider is finding the best time of the day for you to run. Maybe it is very early in the morning before breakfast and then you can get the rest of your day started, or late at night when work is over. Possibly squeeze one into a lunch break for a few quick miles. Anything to bring the mileage up and keep yourself honest with training. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to run during every waking hour of the day just to hit your weekly mileage, but find what time of day works best for your schedule that isn’t wearing you down and still get to enjoy the benefits of running. Finding the right time of day to block off a chance to run everyday can keep you more consistent than just running whenever you have some time, since that time may never come if you are too busy.
Include a Warm Up & Cool Down
Another valuable piece of advice is to find a solid warm up and cool down routine before and after runs. The miles and workouts are important to every runner’s training, no question about it. But having a good warm up and cool down can keep you healthy throughout the training cycle. Especially during the winter months, you don’t want to start your runs with your muscles cold. Training during the winter is important, but staying healthy during them should also be a top priority. Warming up should include some sort of dynamic movements like leg swings and lunges, while a cool down can include foam rolling. 5 minutes of a warm up and a cool down can be all you need, so you aren’t cutting more time out of your day than you can afford. If you are unsure on how to start, check out this blog or our instagram for helpful videos!
Find a Training Partner or Group
Having a training partner or group can also be a great way to keep consistent with training. Having someone to hold you accountable for bettering yourself that day. Going through training with another friend or colleague can make the runs and workouts easier, plus it will be more fun to accomplish something together! You can all go running together, help pace other races leading for one another, or even just text or call them every now and then and ask how training is going. Being able to share positively how training is going can help keep yourself honest.
Cross Train for Variety
If time starts becoming a factor you don’t have, or an injury pops up, cross training is another option you can use to stay fit. It will take many weeks, sometimes months, to lose overall fitness both aerobically and physically if you stop running, but you will lose it much faster if you do not keep up with another form of exercise. Cycling or swimming are great aerobic alternatives to running, so if you don’t have the time to get ready to conquer the winter outside, you can revert to cycling indoors on a peloton or if you have access to an indoor pool to work on your aerobic fitness. Physical therapy and strength training can also be a great supplement, since we can help heal your injury AND keep your legs strong enough to get back to running with losing little to no fitness. Doing something is definitely better than doing nothing.
Many people think that if they do not run for 2 weeks, all fitness is lost and they cannot race. That is simply not true, it takes a very long time to get completely “out of shape,” which is why cross training is a great way to keep at it and continue making yourself faster and stronger.
If you are struggling to find a good and healthy running routine due to an injury or something that you don’t quite understand, make an appointment with us at Finish Line Physical Therapy and we’ll do everything we can to get you back to running and keep you prepared for that race!