January 10, 2017

Base Training for Endurance During Winter

While our inclination to hibernate during the cold months gets stronger as the days get shorter, winter is the perfect time for base training to help build an endurance base. My typical schedule requires me to use December as a recovery month. The first two weeks of the month are a true recovery – no workouts. The remaining couple weeks of December are recovery workouts – meaning, light workouts (no long days). Once January comes, I use January and February to build my base for the upcoming running and triathlon seasons.

Recovery doesn’t necessarily mean do nothing. It just means give your body a break from the high volume of training required by endurance sports. My husband is mostly a runner, so he swims during his recovery month. Since I run and do triathlons, I usually add in more strength training and less swim/bike/run.

Come January, you’ll find us beginning to build our base.  Start slow and short and spend the first two months of the year increasing your speed, pace and distance. Training consistently like this during winter allows your nervous and muscular systems to adapt and develop your slow twitch muscle fibers which, in turn, builds that endurance base.

For swimming, you can use this time to build your distance and work on drills.

For cycling, you’re going to need to get on that trainer. I know this can be drudgery so find a good Netflix series to catch up on, an online video instructor or a local coaching group like Spin 90 or your tri coach.

For running, join your local running club. A running program like Flying Feet will make sure that you are building your base for spring using a training plan that will minimize your risk of injury.

Strength training is also important for performance. The more muscle you have, the better your body will be capable of making physiological adaptations to stress. Since you aren’t putting in as many high intensity sessions during the winter months, increase  the number of strength training workouts in your schedule to a maximum of three times per week making sure to put at least one day of rest between workouts for those major muscle groups.

Running and Triathlon are both sports that place a great deal of stress on the body.  Even though our bodies are great at adapting to the stress we put on them, too much stress can lead to overuse injury.  Base building allows you to slowly add stress to your muscles and joints so that once you begin adding those long, high intensity training sessions in the spring, you won’t be asking your body to go from Zero to Mach 10 fresh out of the gate.

Lastly, don’t forget about good nutrition. Fueling your body to meet the needs of endurance goals will only add to the benefits of building your base during the winter.

What do you do during the winter months to build your base for the endurance season?

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10 Comments on “Base Training for Endurance During Winter

Lauren @ Lauren Runs
January 10, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Agreed – base training is important! I’ve tried to follow it with low key workouts throughout the winter, and try to put a little “spice” back in to make sure the fast-twitch muscle fibers still work, but just not as much as true build & speed workouts. I like strides, and high cadence intervals on the bike.

Ellie | Hungry by Nature
January 10, 2017 at 4:02 pm

This is such great information on base training – thank you!
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GiGi Eats
January 10, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Regardless of the month, I always work out. So I am always working on me! 😉 My base stays in tact year round!

Cassandra @ Powered By BLING
January 11, 2017 at 7:54 pm

Me too! The only difference this time of year is that the way I work out is different because the goal is to build the endurance I need for my races in the spring/summer. You keep being all about that base! 😉

abbey sharp
January 10, 2017 at 8:52 pm

I to enjoy cycling in the winter, its a great way to get my heart rate going before a strength training class!
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Cassandra @ Powered By BLING
January 11, 2017 at 7:51 pm

I’m trying to alternate between spin and my trainer. Being by myself at home on the trainer is not my cup of tea!

Chrissy @ Snacking in Sneakers
January 11, 2017 at 10:25 am

We’re doing a winter warrior challenge right now to run outside every day in January. I much prefer that to the trainer – I haaaate the trainer, lol. I get 3 minutes into it and am like “am I done yet?!”.
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Cassandra @ Powered By BLING
January 11, 2017 at 7:51 pm

Tell me about it. The trainer is my enemy right now. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to make in through winter on it. LOL I love running outside all year round, but it’s just too dangerous to me on the bike. Good luck with your challenge!

January 11, 2017 at 7:09 pm

I love base training! Not so much intervals and speed work 😉
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January 12, 2017 at 11:13 am

If you stick with your training throughout the hard Winter months it will pay off in the Spring! Great motivational post!
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