The spring is a valuable time for endurance athletes as it offers us our first chance in months to engage in the sports we've had to put on hold since last fall, and this can be a good thing. Training different muscle groups, introducing diversity back into your routine; it can all boost your general fitness up to a great level. But there should also be prudence in your approach; jumping headlong into running if you haven't tied up the shoes in a few months could easily lead to minor injury. Make sure to ease up your volume gradually, and look for softer terrain like trails instead of roads to restart you impact-heavy activity. Also, I think it's a great idea to always start each spring with a new pair of running shoes. Not only is it exciting to pull a great-smelling pair of kicks out of the box for the first time in April, but that old pair from last fall is likely broken down. Especially if you used them in the winter, when road salt and debris can weaken your old shoes' integrity, having a new pair gives you the best chance of protecting your initially-weaker running joints from the pounding.
Core strength, that old chestnut, will continue to be your best friend (if you've got it) or your worst enemy (if you don't) this spring. A strong core will allow you to dive into new activity without major injury, as it ties together all the extremities which are suddenly baffled at the change in movement. Lacking strength in your core means everything from leaning forward on a bike to pounding up and down while running will be absorbed by your arms and legs, leaving them more susceptible to overuse injury. Get in the gym and do some strength, you!
|Alison (in grey shirt, right-of-center), about to start her first running race of 2013, the Squak Mtn Half. She won.|
Given all of the above, what's the best way to embrace spring? Do everything! Get on your bike, go running, go backcountry skiing and carve some corn. Take advantage of this time to get involved in lots of different sports, because as the year wears on you will eventually want to hone in on that one sport where you goals reside.
Here's our Methow Endurance Springtime Checklist:
1. Buy new running shoes (try La Sportiva!)
2. Try and include at least three different sports in your fitness routine each week
3. Try a sport you've never done before, or haven't done in a long time
|When's the last time you stood at a place like this with skis on, having made it there by your own steam? Backcountry skiing is excellent strength and aerobic training; it's pretty damn fun, too.|
4. Set goals! Spring is the new year for athletes - want to try a 50-mile trail race? Search the race calendars and pick one. Interested in moving up a wave in the Birkie? Register for the race now and plan your training year around that goal. Having a focus and working that focus with a coach can dramatically increase your odds of success, and beginning in the springtime gives you a long-range plan.
5. Enlist the help of a Methow Endurance coach. We can help you structure your training and proceed in the best possible manner toward your goals, and starting in the spring gives you and us a blank slate to work with, ready to fill with high-quality training and preparation.