2006 blizzard in New York                        Manhattan during the blizzard of 2006. (Chang W. Lee/The NY Times)

  Your races have been run, and the days are getting shorter and colder.  What’s a runner to do in the winter?
  Get ready for next year, of course!  Here’s a plan for making your off-season productive, and to position you for an even better racing season in 2012.
  First, analyze your 2011 season.  Be brutally honest.  Did you hit your goals?  What worked well, and what did not?  Consider these categories:

  • your race finishing times
  • your resistance to injury
  • the adequacy of your gear
  • your endurance
  • your speed
  • your race preparation
  • your recovery
  • your nutritional plan
  • your mental approach to training and racing
  • your motivation
  • your satisfaction in being a runenr
  • how well the running lifestyle merged with your social and professional commitments

  Next, after reviewing your past season, start thinking about the coming year.  Consider these steps to work on through the coming winter months:

  1. Break Your Routine.  After months of hard training and racing, you might find yourself either a little tired of your routine, or a lot tired of it.  So drop it all for a few weeks.  Do something else that’s active and fun, preferably something unstructured.  Go hiking, ski, or try some cardio classes at your gym.  Just don’t do any of the usual running workouts you’d been doing.  This will keep you fit – and even extend your fitness by working your body in new ways – and will help recharge your batteries.
  2. Maintain Your Base.  When you get back to training, remember that you could maintain a base without having to maintain your volume.  Do half of the distances you were doing when you were at the peak of your 2011 season.
  3. Work On Your Weaknesses.  Albert Einstein reportedly said that one definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect different results.  Want better race results for 2012?  Then do something different.  Figure out what areas you were weakest in, and work to raise your performance in those areas.  For example, this would be a good time to strengthen your core, improve your form, and increase your overall strength.  A good resource for learnign how to do this is Smart Marathon Training.
  4. Identify Your Goals.  Figure our your general goals, such as adding an event or a new race distance, and then target specific races.

  By late winter and early spring, you could begin to transition from this workout plan to full training.  You might be surprised to find that you are more motivated, fit, and ready to get back into training and racing than you ever had been before at this point of the season.


About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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