Written by James Kuhlwilm
Spring Endurance Training
With the days drawing out and at least the potential for the air to get warmer, it is time to turn your endurance training up a notch. Race season is around the corner and it is the perfect time to be refining and adding the more delicate touches to the rather blunt winter off-season. With plenty of long rides and runs to look forward to, here are some tips to get your body into endurance racing form during the spring season.
Over the winter (and if you read the article in this forum for winter training) you will have been focusing on indoor training with a lot more time spent at the gym than usual. Although you might have preferred to be out in the sun during that time, the gloomy days and dark evenings gave you the perfect opportunity to focus on a different aspect of training, namely building up your strength and power through weight training, and also making use of the stationary bikes to practice high intensity interval training. You will hopefully have seen results in the form of a stronger core and more thunderous thighs.
But now it is time to dust off your road bike, invest in a new pair of runners and start a different training schedule. Although it is tempting to go all out, it is sensible to start relatively small. Don’t try to break your 10k PB on your first attempt. Rather, try running a 10k at half-marathon pace for your first outing. Then over the next month, you can build on this, both in terms of time and distance. Use a mix of short sprint sessions to maintain strength, and throw in at least one long session each week to build up your heart and lung capacities.
Spring is also the time to add a little variety to your training. You want to train your body’s adaptability to different challenges, i.e. you want your body to be able to cope with changes in pace, changes in inclines and maybe even changes in altitude. To do this, plan your schedule so that you can fit in at least one sprint session (to keep your strength), one mid-distance race-pace session and one endurance session per week.
This will mean that you are not just a one-trick, endurance pony, but have the adaptability to switch up between different kinds of races come summer. Another good way to change things up is “fartlek” training, a method where you change between different paces within one session. For example, while you are out running, pinpoint an inanimate object in the distance, and sprint to it. After your sprint, turn down the pace until you catch your breath, then lock in on a new object and sprint to it. This is a great way of ensuring your body has the ability to switch pace during a race, which is often necessary.
Depending on the distance you want to race, about one month into your spring training and building up on the solid winter base, it is a good idea to begin to chisel away to create the finer features of your performance. If you are planning to run marathons over race season, then spring is the perfect time to be working on your race pace per kilometre. Work in a couple of marathon race pace sessions into your weekly schedule to get a feel of the rhythm you want to race at to achieve the best time possible on race day.
Finally, spring is the time for cleaning. It is the perfect time to reorient your training and refocus. It helps that race season is only a couple of months away, and it is easier to concentrate on specific goals than it was in the darkest days of December and January. Hopefully, you have already planted the roots you need to grow during the winter and are now preparing to shoot out and show what you’ve got.
In the next posts over the coming weeks, you will have specific training schedules to make the most of the improving weather and capitalise on the work you put in at the gym. Running, swimming, cycling and all three combined will be included, so keep an ear to the digital ground!