• Put ‘Spring’ in your step
    April 13,2014
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    Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo

    Josh Saxe of Montpelier rides his bike along Route 2 in Middlesex Wednesday during an early-season training ride as temperatures rose into the lower 50s
    Snow sports may not yet be a distant memory, but before you know it, boating and fishing season will begin, state parks will open and running races from 5k to marathons will pop up each weekend. Will you be ready?

    If you plan to participate in an organized event, you need to be ramping up your training now. Over the winter you may have diligently spent hours establishing a base, but your base is just that, a foundation on which to build. It is time to do so.

    In keeping with the season, move to the next level, literally or figuratively “put a spring in your step.” As you have steadily logged miles at moderate intensity, your body has become stronger and more efficient. You find that you are able to travel farther in the same amount of time and that you are now eager to reach for more.

    You live and train in Vermont so that is easy to do. Outdoors you cannot walk, run or ride for long without encountering a hill. When you see one ahead of you, anticipate, relax, maintain momentum the best you can, breathe and go.

    Because of the repetitive nature of walking, running and cycling, practicing good form is a must in order to maximize performance and avoid overuse injury that can discourage as well as debilitate. When climbing, adjust as needed, be constant in technique and form and dig in with what is sustainable.

    Often, when faced with a difficult or long piece of training, it is useful to break it down into manageable parts, bite-sized pieces. See each segment as a link in a chain; strengthen a weak link before it causes damage.

    Uphill let your legs do the work, keep your core strong and relax your neck, shoulders, arms and upper body. Descending is a just reward.

    Putting a spring in your step may mean spicing up your outdoor activity with some pick-ups, or brief bursts of energy. Short and sweet, pick-ups are also fun. Go ahead, play. Skip, hop, run, chase, tag and race. These mini bouts of effort, or intervals, teach your body to accelerate as well as recover.

    Consistent, moderate intensity exercise is vastly important in your overall plan, but segments of hard work spike capability, confidence and fitness.

    Not surprisingly, the byproduct of intervals is as much mental and emotional as physical. Energy is not depleted by exercise. As it increases, so does enthusiasm, motivation and a sense of optimism.

    As you pick up the pace, you will identify your progress and become eager to see how much more you can achieve. You learn to accept tests as part of the process. Small victories suggest possibilities that you approach with appropriately eager anticipation, with a spring in your step.

    Reach Linda at www.lindafreemanfitness.com
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