With the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run more than eight weeks away, I’m not quite ready to start training for the race, but it’s never too early for conditioning. Here are three things that I think runners can be doing now to get ready for spring races.
1. Increase your base mileage. The first thing that you can do now to get ready for your spring race is to build up your base mileage, especially if you backed off or took a break from running over the holidays and have a longer race on your spring calendar. If you took time off from running, you might want to start back with 3 mile runs. If you cut back to short runs, you might want to start increasing your long run distance gradually, adding 1-2 miles a week until you are back up to your usual base distance.
2. Strength training. Another thing that you can do now is strength training. I use winter months to run less and strength train more. Now is a good time to assess your muscles for imbalances. When a nagging ITB injury sent me to physical therapy, I was surprised to learn how much weaker I was on one side. One way to address imbalances like that is to do single-side exercises that work one side at time, like single-leg squats instead of regular squats. Runners also can have imbalance between opposing muscle groups, like having strong quadriceps muscles and weaker hamstring muscles. One way to address imbalances like that is to focus on your weaker muscle groups, without totally ignoring your stronger ones. Another lesson I learned in physical therapy is how important a strong core is to preventing running injuries. My physical therapist focused on different plank variations. If you’ve neglected your core, start with 10 second planks and do a variety of straight-arm, elbow and side planks.
3. Yoga and/or stretching. My final suggestion is to incorporate yoga and/or stretching into your regular routine. The experts seem to disagree whether it’s beneficial to stretch before or after a run, or even ever, so if you are new to running or prone to injuries, you should check without your own doctor first. You can avoid that debate by practicing yoga one or more times a week–there are even “yoga for runners” programs that focus on the areas where runners seems to need the most work–for me that’s always my hips and hamstrings.
When you are ready to start training for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, don’t forget the In-Person/On-Site Training Program that starts January 25/26 and the Virtual Training Program that starts January 27.
Have you started training for a spring race?
What else do you think runners should be doing now to get ready for their spring races?