Finally, the outdoor season has begun, and many marathons and obstacle races have taken place already. Now we discover what type of results the harsh training of winter has yielded; will the expectations that we’ve been building up over such a long time be met? And if so, how do we maintain our present form?
Let’s get one thing straight first: no matter how you’ve been training during the winter season, you have a big advantage now that you don’t have to start from where you were last fall.
The question now is, how do you proceed with your training starting this season in order not to lose what you have built up during the off-season? How do you maintain it or possibly even increase it a bit further?
The constant desire to challenge ourselves to keep improving is extremely good. It is this drive that makes us go to the gym and “go get it”, but now that winter is over, running becomes more important to your specific training and building muscles becomes less important.
It is much easier to simply maintain your post-winter form than it is to continue to work on it. Even so, retaining your shape isn’t effortless, and you actually have to work out to do so. It becomes necessary to keep up with your visits to the gym (to retain your strength) even as, come spring, you will want to start focusing on run training.
Simply put, when training to run you want full body weight training, endurance training as well as cardio. Separating the training methods makes it easier to plan what we should do for exercise on a given day or even a week.
Because running alone is not enough to increase strength, we have to go off the running course to take care of that.
While it can be said that endurance and strength are opposites of each other, they compliment each other spectacularly. It is undoubtedly a great advantage to have both.
So how do we do it? Strength is maintained by training hypertrophy once a week. It is important that these exercises are similar to those carried out during the building phase, because we already receive specific training for running when we run.
Hypertrophy is an exercise that involves about 3-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions, and stimulates muscle growth.
On the other hand, cardio and endurance training (specific endurance training is one of the most important parameters in regard to performance) can be achieved while running, since the most important factor here is your pulse over time.
Cardio means having a sufficiently high pulse. As blood pressure increases, its resistance to flow creates strength for the heart.
What to consider in cardio training is that the pulse must be high for a short period of time. Turn intervals, where you run for 2-4 minutes and then rest for the same amount of time (let your heart rate drop below 60%), is a good example of this.
For full effect, you should stay at 90% of your max heart rate for about 16 minutes. In terms of turn intervals, this would equate to running 4-minute intervals four times.
For endurance training and fatigue resistance, you will instead want to spend a good 40-45 minutes (a full training session) on distance running with a lower pulse.
Whether you are training cardio or endurance, it is good to use a heart rate monitor to track your pulse, making sure you keep it right. This is especially true for endurance training!
If you do not know what your values are when training endurance, it is very helpful to perform a test and find out. This can be done with a simple heart rate monitor, which will provide you with decent enough results to use as a guideline in your training. Note, however, that for more accurate results you can opt to take a physical test in a lab.