Every October, the days begin to be squeezed shorter and shorter. Daylight slips away incrementally, and the temperature starts to dip below freezing, making it just a little more challenging to get your dose of exercise.
Veteran runners and newbies alike will do well to recommit themselves to what Coach Mike has labeled the “New Physical Year.” It starts in October, and is a spinoff from government’s “Fiscal Year.” Get it?
This time of year, we keep our training constant. There’s no need for a continuing resolution to keep your fitness program going. Save that New Year’s Resolution for some other dream.
In this “New Physical Year,” we will focus on staying physical, in motion throughout the fall. As the days darken you will become stronger, and as the mercury drops you will become faster. In several months you will greet the winter solstice fit and ready to pick a fitness goal worthy of your efforts in 2016.
Here are five tips that can help keep your fitness program on track this time of year, when the urge to stay under the warm covers might be rearing its ugly head.
Become a morning runner
Get organized the night before. Lay out your clothing and shoes to save time. It will be dark, so be visible: Wear reflective gear and use a headlamp or flashlight. Watch for slippery conditions such as ice or wet leaves. Ice Grippers that pull over your running shoes work, or you can purchase shoes with built-in studs.
Go for an active outdoor lunch
Go for some fresh air – just a 10-minute stroll can make a big difference, especially if the sun is out. As daylight dwindles, this is the perfect time to stockpile as much daylight exposure as possible, keeping those winter blues at bay.
Recruit at least one friend to join you
Together, establish a time or distance goal for the next three months.
Alternatively you may agree to pursue a running/exercising streak for two weeks or a month. A word of caution with the streak challenge: Training on consecutive days works, but it’s all about intensity. I would modify this to have one or two sessions designated for walking or flexibility. The key is to build the habit of exercising in the morning.
Learn to love the treadmill
Why? It helps when the days of blinding snow and sub-zero temperatures arrive. Plus, you get to wear shorts and can increase your leg speed. The course you program into your treadmill can also be made to simulate some routes. Do you have a race with a 5 percent incline for 300 meters at mile 3? Boom: The treadmill can mimic to a degree what your body will feel on race day.
A fun workout is what I call “1, 2, 3” – After a 10- to 15-minute warm-up at conversation pace, increase your effort to 80 percent to 85 percent for 1 min. Recover with 1 minute of easy running or walking then 2 minutes at 80-85 percent effort and 2 minutes recovery. The same goes for 3 minutes. Start with two sets and build to four. Try it over a 4- to 6-week period.
Work out at the Dome
The Anchorage Dome is an incredible indoor training facility that allows you to step out with confidence, without fear of slipping, falling or freezing. The best way to try out the Dome is by joining the Anchorage Running Club at www.anchorgerunningclub.org. The modest membership of $25 gets you free access every Wednesday from October through March.
So, keep your training going strong with these tips and as I always say …
–Keep Striding and Smiling,