How do I Start Training Now for Spring without Peaking too Early
This spring I am planning on running the 3200m and the 1600m in track. I want to have my best season as my goals are 9:50 for the 3200m and 4:35 for the 1600m. The season begins in March so I'm planning to start running in December, but I don't want to peak too early in the season. What workouts should I do and how fast should I go? I'm planning on incorporating long runs, fartleks, tempos, and short easy intervals. What is the best way I should approach training over these 3 months to build a solid base and run that two-mile really fast? Should I incorporate weight training too?
Thanks for your help,
The best way to avoid peaking too early in the season is to set a big base for yourself. Doing a good amount of longer mileage for most of the winter is your best bet. The most common mistake people can make in preparing for a long season is to start in on some intense workouts too early. Those workouts can absolutely give you some quick improvement, but if you don't have the aerobic base then those same workouts can also break you down in short fashion.
You mentioned weight training; that is a great way to build up strength and help prevent injuries. However, you're going to want to make sure that whatever you're doing for weight training is supervised and planned out for you in order to target certain muscle groups. The goal is not to bulk up, it's just to help strengthen and increase durability to supplement your running regimen to improve your running performance.
Unfortunately, shorter quicker workouts in cold weather increase the likelihood for a muscle pull or strain. The best workouts to do are ones that are slightly lower in intensity, but higher in volume. In short: tempo runs and hills. These types of runs will help build up your aerobic capacity and also even give you some "free" speed work when you're running hills. In terms of pace: you never want to train at a pace faster than what you're currently capable of, so don't jump in and train as if you're already capable of running 9:50 or 4:35. Start based off of your current PRs and then work up from there.
Now, using your current PRs as a starting point means that some of these workout target pace times might seem too easy in the beginning, but that leads me to my final point. Three months of pre-season is a long period of time, and the the season will last about two months after that as well. The absolute most important thing you can do in order to reach these goals is to be patient. As I wrote earlier, these early workouts may seem too easy, and then some of the later ones may seem hard or just not go well. Try to remember that no individual workout or run is going to effect your end performance in one way or another. The cumulative effort - the "big picture," if you will - of all your training is what will go into the end result. You will have absolutely awful days where you feel like you'll never run fast again, and you'll have exceptional days that make you think you're invincible. You just have to make sure you keep your head grounded and out of the clouds and stay focused on the end goal.