By: Matthew Kingore
Sloshing through puddles with rain pelting you in the face probably isn’t what thrills you most about running. I know I don’t get excited about the idea of running in the rain, and for safety’s sake I never go out when there’s lightening in the area. But spring weather is often unpredictable and Texas storms are just one more thing runners have to account for in their training. If you’re just not up for running in the rain this spring, here are five workouts to try indoors rather than giving up entirely on your motivation to exercise.
1) Stationary Bike or Treadmill
Let’s start with the obvious. We all know there are treadmills in the gym and exercise bikes too that we could get on when it’s nasty out. You could go to a spin class. You could hop on the nearest treadmill and do the run you’d planned watching television. Or you could opt for a different workout that uses fast and easy intervals to break up the monotony of the dreadmill. Try 4 x 5 minutes at tempo pace with 1 minute easy jog between to recover or 10 x 1 minute at your 5K pace with 1 minute easy to recover. If you don’t want to up the pace, most treadmills give you the ability to set the incline, and raising it up works like increasing the pace. Breaking up the run into smaller units helps pass the time. The same principle applies on the bike.
2) Stair Climbs
If you live in an apartment or work in an office building, chances are there are stairs nearby. Do you use them? Inclement weather days are the perfect excuse to step it up in your next workout. Stairs force you to work against gravity, building strength and power. And because you balance on the leg you’re activating while lifting the other, you’ll strengthen stabilizing muscles that reduce risk of running injuries. Just remember that the steepness of stairs raises your heart rate quickly. If you’d planned a 30-minute run for the day, cut that to 20 minutes of stairs. Climb for 20 to 30 seconds, and then return down slowly to recovery your breath. Build slowly adding a little each time. See if you can climb consistently for one-minute intervals. Do this regularly and your running will certainly benefit.
3) Parking Garage Inclines
Did rain cancel your hill workout? Not to worry. Head downtown for a covered, well lit incline in the nearest parking garage. (Just don’t start your workout at rush hour when drivers are more focused on getting in and out in a hurry than avoiding pedestrians.) As an added benefit, many parking garages are not fully enclosed, which means your GPS watch should still get a decent signal. Running repeats of 2 to 3 stories at marathon pace will prepare you for even the most grueling course. For speed development, sprint up the incline at top speed for 10 seconds then recover and repeat. And for added variety, mix in a set of stairs between running the inclines.
Not everyone has access to an indoor pool, but if you do, take advantage of it. As a low impact activity, swimming is great cross training for runners. You can still get your heart rate up while giving your legs a respite from the regular pounding they take running on the roads. Pools vary from 25 yards to 25 meters, but it’s not an important distinction. Make sure to learn the proper etiquette at your pool before jumping in. The lanes should be numbered and designated for faster or slower swimmers. Not sure which side is which? Ask a lifeguard. In the pool it’s not uncommon to share lanes when the facility is crowded, and you definitely don’t want to get run over by faster moving swimmers. A good workout to start with is 6 x 100m (down and back twice) with one minute rest between.
You don’t have to join an expensive studio to do yoga. There are free videos online and apps you can download to your phone for customizable sessions. Many gyms like the YMCA offer group classes as well. It’s the perfect change of pace on a rainy day. The benefits of yoga include increased flexibility and greater range of motion, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, better balance, and reduced inflammation. All of these will help you run better and stay injury free longer. As an added benefit, studies show yoga could help promote better sleep because of its effects on melatonin. Finding time to practice yoga just a few times a week can have a noticeable impact, so take advantage of the inclement weather.