Guest article provided by Sophie Anders as part of our ongoing collaboration with Front Range Elite.
As a runner training in Colorado year-round, if I could use one word or phrase to describe springtime, it would be “hope.” Or maybe “chaotic.”
I’ve been a competitive runner for over half of my life and spring training has brought on different meaning through all the chapters in my running career. As a high school athlete in Texas, it meant trading in the “freezing” morning practices in the dark for warm and windy track meets where sunburn or heat exhaustion were practically guaranteed if you were racing the 2 mile. As an NCAA runner, spring brought on a similar nostalgia, but this time with purposeful training. Early spring was that pivotal moment of transitioning from long, threshold work to faster speed development. Now, as I round out the first year in my 30s training in Colorado, spring really does give me hope — but not without a side of drama, of course.
Here are some unsolicited tips on how to manage spring training while living in a climate that can’t quite decide what season it’s in:
Be specific with your runs:
Many runners use winter for a lot of different things: taking an unstructured break, focusing on strength work, building an aerobic base, or exploring other forms of cross training, like skiing or cycling. Think about what the next step would be in your build. Use the nicer days in the spring to expand on that massive base you’ve built in the winter or capitalize on your strength build. For many, that will mean rebuilding your foundation of speed as the temperature warms up, while gradually and patiently increasing volume. This can mean light speed work, such as 1-2 min intervals at 5k effort with equal recovery or incorporating strides and hill strides of 20-30 seconds mid-run 2-3 days a week. Strides will emphasize your neuromuscular and biomechanical systems in a way that promotes good form and improves efficiency and running economy at a fast pace.
Bust that rust:
You’ve spent a winter building an absolute beauty of an aerobic base, so WORK IT. Use this time to hop in some good rust buster races and show it off. Even if I’m not in peak race shape, I find spring races to be the best segue as I transition into a summer of trail running. I wouldn’t call it racing my way into shape, but rather paying $50-$100 to throw myself a little party of being injury free for another 3-4 weeks. Enjoy the day, make mistakes, learn from said mistakes, and those terrible mistakes will all be worth it when toeing the line in the summer and fall.
It’s easy to get caught up in a regimented training schedule when spring begins. But, if you live in Colorado or a region with a similar climate, you know that a 60-degree sunny day will be proceeded with 8 inches of snow in mid-April. Soak in the good days, but be prepared to move training around, hop on the treadmill, or scrap sessions if the weather just wants nothing to do with your training. Work with the weather and not against it.
You do you:
Let’s face it: Winter running is hard, and as a result it can feel hard to find that flow in the spring. And you know what? It’s more than okay. Cheer on your friends finding their groove while training for Boston or any spring race. The most important part about this whole weird hobby is finding the fun in it. The goal is to keep it exciting and keep the energy flowing as we roll into the best running seasons.
As spring flourishes and trails start drying out, runners can get back up to higher altitude running. Naturally, mileage and elevation increase, and it’s even more important to supplement with a quality iron product, I prefer to take Floradix® Iron + Herbs Liquid Herbal Supplement or Floravital® Iron + Herbs Liquid Herbal Supplement along with good nutrition to absorb it all and keep your body strong.