Author: Sandra Gallagher-Mohler
Training during the winter can feel monotonous and uninspiring. The alarm goes off at o’dark thirty, the sun is still fast asleep and all you can think about is how warm and cozy your bed is right now. It has literally created a vortex that’s keeping you huddled under the covers. There are layers of clothes to put on and you know that today you simply cannot take another 45 minute scalding hot shower to thaw out after your run because you can’t be late to work, again. I get it, it can be ugly and miserable out there in the winter months. But what if it didn’t have to be? It’s all a matter of perspective mixed with a bit of creative planning.
I worked with an acupuncturist once who told me, “The winter is a time for hibernation. It is a time when things may seem stale and lifeless, but there is magic happening under the surface. And what we don’t always appreciate is that it is this time of rest that allows growth and new life to come forth in the spring. Just because a flower doesn’t bloom when you want it to in middle of the winter doesn’t mean it won’t be beautiful in a few months. Be patient and it will be worth your while.” Wisdom at its finest. And the same rings true for your winter training. Put in the time, get the work done and then in the spring and summer you’ll have a garden of successful workouts and races to admire.
Just because a flower doesn’t bloom when you want it to in middle of the winter doesn’t mean it won’t be beautiful in a few months.
So how do you plant these seeds? Start by thinking of your training in terms of seasons. Recognizing that the purpose of winter training is to prepare for spring and summer racing can give it new meaning. If you only focus on the dreary weather and how bored you are on the treadmill, then you’re guaranteed to face a miserable few months. But if you can see this time as an opportunity to work on weak links such as glute or core strength, then you are working towards new and enticing goals rather than just biding your time.
The winter months are also a great time to try new things and explore your athleticism. Take that ever-so-intimidating new kickboxing class at the gym to build total body and glute specific strength, join that masters swim class and reap the benefits of learning full body engagement patterns, or partner up with a friend for a once or bi-weekly strength training session and challenge yourself to learn new and more integrated moves. (*Learning new exercises by watching the guy next to you at the gym isn’t your best option. Establishing a strength routine with the assistance of a highly qualified trainer is always recommended.) All of these options and others can help you to enhance your strength while also maintaining those important social connections with training partners.
the purpose of winter training is to prepare for spring and summer racing
And for those times when you are logging miles on the treadmill, this is a great time to focus on your running gait. Take notice of how your foot plants- is it even on both sides? Are your shoulders moving rhythmically with your legs? Are you practicing proper postural stacking? What changes do you feel when the you alter the pace? These are all areas you can focus, and improve, on when the terrain and conditions remain constant and predictable as they do on the treadmill.
So work on that fun new music playlist and use your time at the gym and on the treadmill wisely. Seeing this training time as an opportunity rather than an obligation will have you out on the roads with stronger glutes, increased stability, and an increased zest for running once you can finally head out for those much anticipated spring runs.
Sandra Gallagher-Mohler, IRunTons, LLC www.IRunTons.com Since pursuing a degree in psychology from Loyola University, over the last 15 years Sandra has had the opportunity to coach high school Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track athletes, Division I Track and Field sprint and middle distance athletes, runners of all ages and abilities, and athletes of all ages from the sprint triathlon to the Ironman race distance.