It’s not always sunny, it’s not always warm. The roads aren’t always free of snow or puddles and sometimes the wind gives you a lot more resistance than you were hoping for. From the professional or competitive athlete to the casual jogger, training in any weather can serve as either a friend or a foe.
There are runners that ignore the weather and run whenever they can — rain or shine, sleet or snow. In addition to increased difficulty running in inclement weather, they might face unsafe conditions. But if you don’t keep up the pace through the winter and the rainy days, how are you going to maintain all you’ve worked for during the warmer months?
Maintaining Your Running Regimen Indoors
On those days when your ears and fingers can’t stand the cold, or your eyes don’t want to feel the sideways rain, head indoors – don’t sit out your training. Invest in a home treadmill, head to the gym, or find a covered/indoor track or field you can use.
You can train continuously in two ways indoors: Home fitness equipment and body weight calisthenics.
Home Fitness Equipment
Fans of home exercise equipment might possess the following:
- Medicine balls
- Swiss balls
- Jump ropes
- Elastic bands
When used properly, each of these can be an integral part of a great workout.
Alternatively, if you are on a limited budget or facing space constraints, you should consider bodyweight calisthenics. You should always factor in variations of the “holy trinity” of body weight exercises — push ups, sit ups, and squats — as these three alone are capable of massive fat-burning and muscle-building results. Another exercise that serious athletes love to incorporate into their routines is the burpee. A high-intensity, fairly low-impact exercise that will keep you huffing and puffing.
One of the awesome benefits of bodyweight training is that you will learn how strong — or not — you really are. Many people can do military presses but cannot do a single handstand pushup. Similarly, others can do massive lat pull-downs on exercise machines but cannot do a single pull-up.
Medicine balls and swiss balls provide great options for building tremendous core strength. Core strength is important to incorporate into any exercise routine. A strong core is key to good posture. Correct posture becomes critical when sitting for long periods so that you avoid fatigue and also helps regulate your gait when walking or running. A lack of core strength will cause — at best — improper muscle development and — at worse — a myriad of injuries.
Elastic bands offer great options for resistance training. Generally, thicker bands provide greater resistance while thinner bands have less resistance. In addition to duplicating many weight-intensive exercises, athletes can also use the bands in timed-interval training for an intense cardio workout. Elastic bands also provide support for more difficult exercises, such as pull-ups and “pistols” one-legged squats.
One more device that athletes often use during indoor training is the “exercise wheel,” an inexpensive tool that you can use for core strength and overall upper body strength. This serves as a lawnmower wheel positioned on a single handlebar that you use to roll yourself out from a kneeling position.
An Effective Workout Schedule
No matter what kind of equipment you use, you will need to train regularly. At the very least, you should schedule at least six days of training for 30 to 40 minutes per day. Don’t feel guilty, though, if you can’t work out every day. Sometimes, you need to listen to your body. If it genuinely says, “stop,” and not “I’m feeling lazy,” then stop and take a day or two to recover. Also, your schedule might simply not allow you to fit that much time each day into your routine. That’s cool — carve out 15 minutes. Everybody — and I mean, everybody — can find 15 minutes! Just make sure to be consistent!
Treadmill Workout Schedules
If you are just starting out or want to follow a basic routine during the winter months, try the following 12-week schedule:
- Mondays – Walk
- Tuesdays – Speed Intervals
- Wednesdays – Walk
- Thursdays – Incline
- Fridays – Strength Training
- Saturdays – Power Mix
- Sundays – Rest
For weeks one to four, walk 20 minutes. During weeks five to eight, walk 30 minutes. During weeks nine to twelve, walk 40 minutes. If you need to amp up the intensity, increase your speed or incline level.
In order to make the most of your time and your equipment, you can focus on intense training on the treadmill. You might opt for interval training, which will enhance your endurance and boost your cardiovascular system. Another option is a high intensity workout on the treadmill, which usually involves increasing incline levels and increasing speed. For example, you can start at an incline of zero to 1 percent for five or six minutes to warm up. You can then alternate a minute of higher speed and higher inclines with two minutes of lower speeds and lower inclines. Increase this ratio as your fitness level improves.
To add further interest to your workout and to accelerate the intensity of your routine, try a super-high-intensity-and-interval workout on the treadmill. These quick workouts blast your metabolism into high gear. You sprint for 20 seconds at full speed and then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this interval for eight sets. As your endurance builds, increase this to 16 sets. Your cardiovascular and lungs will thank you!
Nutrition is a final consideration, especially during the winter and in seasons of inclement weather when the body is most likely to store fat. Because of this, you need to be careful about what kind of fuel you put in your tank. Professionals generally recommend sticking to a regimen of 1800-2000 calories a day, consisting primarily of lean meats and green-leafy vegetables. They strictly limit the intake of grains and avoid processed foods and anything with added sugar. In addition, they strive to drink one gallon of water per day. If you are working toward a specific weight-loss goal, you will find this an effective way to achieve results.
Be sure to avoid starving yourself and ensure that some type of fuel is always in the tank. To do this, spread your eating over five to six meals a day instead of the traditional three. In this way, you program your body not to store fat but to be in a constant, calorie-burning mode.
If you are faithful to keep up your fitness in times of inclement weather, you will equip yourself to excel in good weather. Live by the maxim, “There is no off season,” and you will remain in peak condition in spite of the weather.