It’s safe to assume that we won’t be racing before April, I think. The end of the pandemic might finally be tangible, with the vaccine providing a slowly unfurling solution to this crisis, but we aren’t there yet. From a runners perspective this makes things very simple: no races, no track, no group runs, so it’s back to basics and back to base building.
I had to take a very easy week to recover from a bit of a niggle, which gave me a good excuse to look at the coming months and make the decision to start from the ground up, building towards what will hopefully be a positive spring.
I’m fairly new to structuring my training in such a long term way, in the past I’ve just ran and not really minded too much about how that training has been positioned in the calendar in regards to racing. This is the benefit/curse of the club runner – there are races through all seasons, and usually this time of year I would, at the very least, be running in the local cross country league, as well as travelling to some of the bigger regional and national events. This year, without the need to keep race sharpness in my legs, I can focus on building fitness and strength. This will mean that I can happily approach those race-specific workouts further down the line without so much risk of injury.
Ultimately that is really what I want to focus on: being a stronger runner. I haven’t had any bad knocks or long term injuries, but I’m still carrying some annoying little niggles which take a bit of the joy out of some of my easier running. A lot of this comes down to a bit of a left/right imbalance that I’ve become very aware of over the last couple of weeks. A left/right tendency is natural, but you can’t really get away with relying on one side over the other when it comes to running – ideally both sides are doing equal amounts of work.
Base building mostly comes down to developing aerobic capacity (by doing plenty of easy miles), but it is also an opportunity to address some weak spots. Like I said, my weak spot is my left/right imbalance, so as well as keeping things easy, and gradually increasing mileage, I’m taking the time to do single leg exercises, improve my balance, and generally increase leg strength with bike, body weight, and weighted sessions.
In a sense, I am working on becoming the kind of runner that I aspire to be. I want to move with good form, be fast, be strong, and be fit and tough enough to take on whatever distance or terrain that gets thrown at me. Easy running and conditioning training, especially with the grim spell of weather that we’re going through, aren’t exactly the most glamorous aspects of this sport, but come summer the fruits of winters labours will be harvested, when races inevitably return.