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5 ways to maximize winter (so you can run faster next spring)

You can do a lot to maintain and build fitness during the winter months

Winter running can be tough, and even the best-laid training plans can get sidelined by nasty weather. While the next few months may not be the best for quality interval sessions and long runs, there’s still a lot you can accomplish during the winter to ensure that, come spring, your body is ready to tackle your next big training block and improve your run splits at your triathlon events next summer. Follow these five tips to help you maximize winter training.

Maintain your base

When the temperatures are well below freezing and your regular running routes are covered in snow and ice, it’s understandable that you may not be as excited about getting out for a run. If you want to run well in the spring, you do need to do some running over the winter, but the good news is, you can get away with doing a little less.

Unless you have an early spring half- or full-distance tri (or a marathon) on the calendar, feel free to drop the long runs, tempos and interval sessions from your schedule, and simply go out for as long as you can manage, as often as you can. Your main goal during the winter months should be to maintain a base level of fitness, so you’re not starting from scratch once the weather gets warmer.

Work on your form

Now is a great time to work on your form, so when you start training more heavily in the spring, you’ll be a more efficient, and therefore faster, runner and triathlete. Consider visiting a physiotherapist who specializes in working with runners to have your form and gait analyzed. They will be able to tell you what needs improvement and give you exercises to help you get better.

Strength train

If you’re cutting back on the amount of running you’re doing over the winter, use that leftover time to put in some extra reps in the gym (or home gym). Winter is the perfect time to get stronger, so your body is more powerful and resistant to injuries come spring. Focus on things like squats, lunges, calf raises, and core work, and you’ll definitely see the payoff when you start your next training block.

5 simple strength exercises you can do at home to improve your triathlon run split

Work on flexibility and mobility

A regular yoga or mobility practice over the winter is a great way to keep your body moving and work out any kinks before you jump into another training block.

Cross train

If running outside doesn’t seem enticing, you can use the time to put in a bit more of a bike or swim focus. Not only can you work on those sports, but you will maintain your base fitness while taking some of the stress off of your body. If you still want to get outside, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing are fun winter options to mix into your routine.

This story originally appeared on runningmagazine.ca