In this article, we’ll find out which running workouts are best done outdoors in the winter and which exercises should be moved indoors.
Winter and the off season are a tough time to run, when the hallmark of a good runner is the ability to get outside. Indeed, in uncomfortable climatic conditions, pent-up motivation often outweighs the possible effectiveness of training.
Related: 10 Proven Ways to Stay Motivated for Off-Season Training
First of all, we are faced with the question of where to organize training. Typically, most athletes have a choice of three locations:
- optimal routes on the street;
- athletics arena;
- treadmill in the fitness club.
I tend to favor a combination of all possibilities, where certain conditions are most advantageous for each type of load.
The main mistakes of beginners
It is very important to go to winter street workouts already stretched and slightly warmed up, but not sweaty. Just do a joint warm-up and several dynamic exercises at home, including the main muscle groups. For example, squats or lunges.
The biggest mistake beginners often make is trying to dress as warmly as possible. And after 10-15 minutes, having sweated a lot, they begin to freeze, especially in windy weather. You should dress in 2-3 thin layers that breathe and wick away moisture. “wrap” only possible over short distances if you are still running very slowly.
The main fear of beginner runners is breathing outside in cold weather. The fear of catching a throat cold with deep breathing is totally unfounded, because a beginner runner should run at low intensity when breathing is shallow and shallow, which eliminates fears.
The more experienced runner also has more regular and rhythmic breathing during moderate intensity work. And even if the mucous membrane dries out a little after training, it quickly returns to normal. Therefore, concerns about this are unfounded.
Of course, the intensity of breathing also depends on the air temperature. Therefore, such a rule applies here – the colder it is outside, the lower the intensity of training and, accordingly, the depth of breathing.
It is quite acceptable to train at temperatures up to -20 degrees in calm, at lower values the probability of training is assessed individually.
Useful article on the subject: How to run outside in winter
Outdoor running options
If our task is to improve sports performance from year to year, then winter is the best time to develop aerobic capacities, which are fundamental in any form of endurance.
This can be done by gently increasing the tidal volume of low and medium intensity work, which is just more pleasant to do on the street, without locking yourself between four walls:
- easy cross-country running for 40-120 minutes at a conversational pace is the primary training tool for building basic running endurance;
- easy cross-country with a fast arrival (50 minutes easy + 5 minutes at a pace of 5-10 km) – additional stimulation of high-threshold muscle fibers, maintaining tone;
- 40-90 minute progressive run (20 minutes easy + 20 minutes at marathon pace + 20 minutes at half marathon pace) – medium-intensity work in the latter period gives a powerful adaptive boost, as you go its execution against a backdrop of fatigue;
- fartlek from 40 to 70 minutes (50 minutes of easy running with 6 accelerations, 1 minute of rest inside the accelerations corresponds to a 5 kilometer run) – supports speed capacities, teaches muscles to use the lactate accumulated during accelerations as fuel.
Many practice in winter snowdrift running to develop muscular endurance. In my opinion, this can only be done in the form of short intervals that maintain proper running technique and high power. Otherwise, such exercises are meaningless and do not give any effect, except in severe fatigue.
Podcast on the topic: What to run in the winter on the street
Running results are largely assured by the development of bioenergetics, which is what all types of running load aim for. But the unidirectionality and cyclicity of the movements lead to enormous cumulative stress on our active muscle groups. And when their resource is exhausted, the load shifts to the ligaments and joints, which ultimately leads to injury.
Another biomechanical risk factor is poor running or exercise technique. This results in an unevenly distributed load and also hits the weakest points.
Therefore, the best addition to cross-country training will be technical and strength work, which can be displayed in separate sessions or combined with long runs. But they should be performed in a warm room – at home or in the arena:
- complexes of special running and jumping exercises, the volume of which should be increased closer to the spring, develop the correct motor patterns and increase the elasticity of the foot;
- coordination work with special equipment and on barriers – teaches you to control your body, develops speed and increases range of motion;
- stretching and joint mobility exercises – develop muscle flexibility and elasticity, and are also active recovery procedures;
- sets of exercises for balance – developing joint stability, which is a way to prevent injuries;
- complexes for strengthening the core muscles – help to increase the local endurance of the muscles that provide a stable posture throughout any run;
- complexes for the development of strength – increase explosive and pushing power, which has a positive effect on running speed even before special running work.
And finally, some very effective training exercises on a treadmill, especially relevant for fans of trail running and mountain running.
Running on a constant incline
Medium intensity, run time – 20-30 minutes. The slope should be at least 5% in order to connect more muscle fibers to work, and the intensity should correspond to a 10-21 km run.
Important! It’s the intensity, not the rhythm. You can measure it using the pulse or subjective sensations.
Long stretches on a steep slope
Slope 10-15%, amount – 5 * 1000 m after 3-5 minutes of rest.
The main effect of such training is the harmonious combination of cardio load and a large strength component, and they are quite difficult to interpret in other conditions.
The main difference between running outdoors and on a treadmill is the surrounding climate. On the track, you work in a cloud of your own evaporation which, for lack of movement, does not move. The proximity of fitness clubs is familiar to everyone. On the street you are always accompanied by a pleasant coolness.
The mechanics of running and the effort on the treadmill are also different. And to approximate the conditions of natural running, set the gradient to 1-2% and do workouts with the same intensity as the street.
As you can see, winter is given to athletes to learn a comfortable running volume and strengthen the body for an intense season. And if you not only read it, but also do it, the results will truly amaze you!
Read Next: Treadmill Workouts: Exercises, Pros & Cons