Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mixed Surface Training for Fast Results

   I love running trails,spring,summer,fall or winter I really enjoy being out as far as I can get on whatever dirt surface comes my way. That being said I have come to realize that there is a certain benefit to training  on other surfaces as well to really maximize your potential as a runner.
  The trail will train your strength and agility ,you learn quickly how to scan further ahead and plan your footsteps through technical sections. Winter running can be especially good for this in southern Ontario as the trails are usually multi-use in nature and horses bikes and day hikers on a warm day can leave a really rough trail surface that leaves no time for day dreaming or distraction. The various ways of transforming your footwear for winter, traction aids or snowshoes make your feet significantly heavier supplying an added training benefit. The trails also teach you quickly how to change up your stride for sudden inclines or wild descents were it is everything you can do just to remain upright.

Haliburton,Ontario.Fast downhill but watch your step.
   Road running has the distinct benefit of being able to focus on consistent fast pace without having to pay attention to the placement of every step,also the grades are significantly more gradual to allow vehicles the benefit of staying on all four tires.  This consistent fast running pays off huge when you return to the trail as you become much more comfortable with the quick turnover and find yourself naturally moving at this new pace.Choosing your routes to travel down quieter country roads allows you to avoid traffic and take time to look around and enjoy the view.


  Finally there is the treadmill, viewed by some as good others as evil, it has real benefits if used as part of a mixed surface training schedule. Don't let it become your escape from winter running because you'll be sure to miss out on the benefits of the strength training supplied by the snow and psychological effect of surviving the worst winter can throw at you,but don't be afraid to use it either. Real benefits can be gained from a treadmill run,not relying entirely on yourself to set the pace but being at the mercy of the rotating belt is a great tool for speed work or tempo runs in the dead of winter. Also being able to set the room temperature with a treadmill in the house can give you a real advantage in  hot or humid race conditions that may occur early in the year.
      At the end of the day this is just my personal opinion, the trails are still my first love but there is a great deal of fun to be found in flying down a country road or soaking your clothes in sweat during a speed session in the middle of January. After all variety is the spice of life right?