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Training in January: Fitness (Part 1 of 4)

Welcome to the New Year! If you are like me, it’s always a time when I start to get back my fitness after my off-season break.

There are four areas I like to work on during the first month or two back: Fitness, Form, Functional Strength and Flexibility.

Each of those combine together and build an incredibly solid base for the remainder of the year. I’ll explain each of those over the next four weeks. Here’s the first!


After an off-season both speed and endurance drop from the peak levels achieved the year before. Getting back to that level and beyond takes time. Patience is the call. What that means is regardless of what you were capable of doing in training at your peak, it’s important to start back from exactly where you are at with your fitness now.

Train at the level that is sustainable, repeatable and that you can build on each week. Have workout lengths, volumes and intensities mirror where you are in this moment. In short time you will build to being where you were last year or where you want to be in a few months when your first races roll around.

Start with where you are at now in your fitness, not from where you were at the end of last season.

Yes, it is important to challenge yourself a bit, but keep it real.

For example, if you can run 45-minutes on a long run without it being a stretch, then build from there. Start by adding enough to let you know you reached a bit, but not so much that you are wasted already. That means a 10-15% increase. It does NOT mean a 50% in an attempt to get back to your 2-hr regular long runs that you did late last summer.

The second key to bringing back fitness is building your aerobic base. That means avoiding any regular weekly speedwork until your fat burning metabolism really starts to kick in. This will become the gold standard for your racing.

If you use Zones for setting your training intensity that means a lot of time in Zone 2. If you use heart rate it’s going to be roughly at or below 180 minus your age and then adjusted up 5 beats if you have a number of years of training under your belt and another 5 up if you are over about 55 years old or under about 25 years old.

Once you start back with this type of early season training, the other three factors will come into play. Stay tuned for Part 2 of 4: Form.

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