Runner’s World March 2004
By Jeff Galloway
Springing Ahead of Yourself
When temperatures finally start to rise, so too will your milage.
Here’s how to protect against overtraining.
- By Jeff Galloway
You know spring is right around the corner when you see a group
of runners outside in just shorts and T-shirts - and it’s
still only 45 degrees. We’re just so happy to see a few patches
of grass that we often rush to peel off the layers and pile on the
But doing too much too soon can wreak havoc on your wintertime body
if you’re not prepared. In particular, dramatic incenses in
mileage and speed along with a change in running surfaces can lead
to injury. Sidestep all three of these preseason hazards with the
1. MANAGE YOUR MILEAGE
“Listen to your body” is a classic piece of training
advice. But in the spring, your body becomes a pathological liar.
Every run feels good, tempting you to run on and on. Here’s
how to tune out your overly ambitious inner-runner.
1. Find that log book you got as a Christmas present and use it
to keep close track of your mileage increases. When you write out
your daily miles in black and white, it’s easy to see if your
weekly totals are rising too fast. How fast is too fast? Keep your
increases to 10 percent of your weekly mileage. And every fourth
week, cut your mileage by 50 percent to give your body a break.
After this reduced-mileage week, pick up where you left off.
$ Keep your running routine simple as you gear back up. Don’t
launch into a new, complex training scheme. For example, try running
every other day for your first month. Or recall how many days a
week you were running before your winter slowdown, then slash it
by one day per week, and stay with that number for a month.
2. BE PATIENT WITH PACE
We tent to run slower in the winter, thanks to the slippery roads,
extra layers of clothes, and bone-chilling conditions. As winter
melts into spring, it’s only natural to want to speed things
up a bit. Follow these guidelines to help you pick up the pace without
increasing your injury risk,
$ Employ a two-phase warmup before each run as you build your spring
mileage. This will ensure your body is really ready for the increased
effort. Begin by walking for 5 minutes, then do 10 minutes of slow
jogging before reaching your training pace.
$ Keep all of your running at a comfortable pace (medium effort
level) for the first 3 weeks. That means no speedwork until you’ve
run steadily for 3 weeks. Then include 1 faster day per week, at
which point you insert three or four 1-minutes pickups in the middle
of the run. Don’t run all-out during these faster segments.
Just noticeably increase the pace, and allow 2 to 3 minutes of slower
recovery running between each. Add one or two pickups each week.
3. WATCH YOUR STEP
Where you’ll run this spring is likely to differ from where
you logged your winter miles. The following tips will help you safely
transitions to different running surfaces.
$ Ease into running on the roads if you’ve spent most of your
winter running on a treadmill or indoor track. Both treadmills and
tracks are more cushioned than concrete or asphalt, so your body
is literally in for a shock when you step outdoors. Don’t
give up the softer surfaces cold turkey. Alternate every run on
the road with a run on a treadmill or track until our body grows
accustomed to the harder surface.
$ Prepare yourself to run on trails and grass. Yes, these surfaces
are softer than blacktop or pavement. But running on grass and trails
means navigating over uneven terrain - something your legs, feet,
and particularly ankles may to be accustomed to at this point in
the season. Slow your pace considerably during your first few trail
runs, and take walk breaks when you encounter unstable ground.
You can also strengthen your ankles and improve your balance with
this simple exercise: Stand on one leg with your eyes closed for
up to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat. Do this exercise twice
a day for a few weeks before your favorite trails reappear from
beneath the snow. That way, once the melt-off is complete, you’ll
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