Winter training can be tedious, and isn't always the most fun part of running. But without it, your track season can completely fall apart. Winter conditioning helps increase your endurance, strengthen your muscles, and helps you build a base of training to work up from during the season.
Think of it like a pyramid...
If your goal is to peak at State, the larger your base training is the higher your peak will be! The smaller that base is, the lower that peak will be and you will not see the results in May that you want.
So realistically, how can you get to February 12th and beyond without losing your focus?
1. Remember what you're working towards!
Every training run, weight session, and even rest day is helping you prepare for the season. If you want to get your feet on the Blue Oval in May (and April for Drake Relays), you must train now. Print out a picture of Drake Stadium and hang it on your bathroom mirror or put it in your locker! That will be a daily reminder to you before you head out for a run or a weight session what you are working towards and will help get you fired up! Bonus points for writing a PR or place goal you have on it!
2. Change things up!
Try not to run the exact same routes or do the exact same weight circuits every day, or even every week. Change things up - run a different route, try mixing in some new exercises into your weights circuit, workout with different people. These things will help you stay focused and avoid boredom over the same monotonous exercises every day or week.
3. Read a book!
I know, I know... you're thinking "why would I want to read a book when I have classes and homework?" But trust me, it will be worth it! Every night before going to sleep put down your phone, and instead of perusing Instagram try reading for 10 or 15 minutes. Some great books to help keep you focused are In Pursuit of Excellence by Terry Orlick, Once a Runner by John L. Parker, JR, Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear, Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore, What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan, and Faster than Lightning: My Story by Usain Bolt.
4. Stay healthy!
Avoiding nagging injuries makes training MUCH more pleasant. Avoid things like runner's knee, IT band syndrome, SI joint pain, plantar fasciitis, and stress reactions by investing in a good pair of running shoes that are properly fitted for you. Shop at a local store where they will test your gait and make recommendations for your perfect shoe. They can help answer your questions and will get you in a good pair of shoes to keep you healthy. Check out our article Your Guide to Spikes for a list of local running shops around Iowa.
5. Have fun with it!
When you go for a run or go into the weight room, keep things fun and lighthearted. Turn on your favorite song, wear a funny outfit, invite your friends or family along, take your dog with you, drive to a dirt trail and run in the woods, set a goal for how many reps you can do, take a yoga class, etc. Make a new challenge every day and accomplish them! Set goals and achieve them! Track your progress with a training journal like this one so you can look back and remember how far you've come.
Just have fun and enjoy the process! Before you know it, it will be summer and the season will be over, so try to enjoy every day and remember how fortunate you are to be able to train and compete. Good luck!