Build a Strong Base
Now is the time to adopt an aerobic - and strength- conditioning program
Illustration by Kevin Howdeshell
It’s winter. The trails are ankle deep in slippery mud and the days are short. You may welcome these changes as an excuse to slack off on your training—in fact this is the time to increase your training volume, especially if you aspire to run ultras. Why? “Off-season” training develops maximal oxygen uptake, improves economy of movement, improves cardiac output, increases blood volume, increases the capillary network that feeds the muscles and increases the volume of glycolytic and oxidative enzymes in the muscles—the very essence of aerobic activities.
To lay your foundation for becoming a stronger trail runner, employ three types of training: long, steady aerobic running, hill running and strength training. But the process takes a few months so don’t dally during the holidays.
Says Brian Morrison, 32, a second-place finisher at the 2007 White River 50 Mile National Championship, “Winter base building is absolutely critical to racing well through the spring and summer. These base miles prep your body for the more taxing mileage that follows in the race-season build up.”
Adam Lint, 27, of Seattle, Washington, puts in 100 to 120 miles per week during his winter conditioning phase. In 2008, his approach paid off with a third-place finish in the USA 100K Road Championship and a second in the White River 50-Mile Trail Championship. “Running is a year-round sport, and that is one of the things I love about it. Even when resting it is important to stay active,” says Lint. “In 2008 I cross trained in the pool and in the gym on my easy days and after races.”