Winter workouts can be frustrating for many. But the lower volume of outdoor activities, ie less running, can be essential for building a strong base for the upcoming warm seasons and longer runs ahead.

Periodization is a very effective way to plan your year long training. This involves periods of base training, endurance, power, competition and recovery/ active rest. Even if you are not a sport specific athlete, you can benefit from incorporating this method into your yearly fitness routine. This type of training is more resistant to burn outs and overtraining. These factors can directly lead to injuries as well as “falling off the wagon”.

Think about it this way. If you watched your favorite tv show 3 times per week for 6 weeks that would be doable. But then after the 6 weeks you were able to transition to a spin off show that had a few of your same favorite characters and elements but it was new enough to get you excited about what was coming up. This is a lot like how your muscles adapt to periodization training. Many of the same elements are used through out the year, but they are tweaked about every 6-8 weeks in order for your body to adapt the best.

Since many people will do more of their workouts inside during the winter, except the East Coasters who are having unseasonably warm weather, it’s a good time to focus on building strength. Starting your year off with a strong core is essential for a successful running and fitness year ahead. Take marathon training as an example, once you begin to stack on the mileage your body will be more susceptible to breaking down. If you have worked on strengthening your abs, quads, glutes and hamstrings your muscles are less likely to fatigue quickly. Early onset muscle fatigue results in poor form which in turn equals injuries.

So don’t get frustrated with your lack of outdoor running and activities over the winter season. Instead, take advantage of your time in the gym and build a strong body for the upcoming training ahead. You’ll be amazed at how important strength training is for all sports, including running.