Spring training isn’t just for baseball players.
Runners at every ability level will find that adding some focused training, whether it’s cross-training in other activities or tweaking their approach to running, will pay big dividends in speed, endurance and injury prevention.
Legion Fitness co-director Dave Casele sees many runners at his early-morning training program, which offers two days each week of swimming drills, two days of strength training and one day of track workouts.
Most participants attend several days each week, customizing the mix of workouts to meet their fitness goals.
“About half the people who come to Legion Fitness are primarily road runners,” Casele said. “They’ve found that strength training enhances their running. When you look at world-class sprinters, you’ll see that they have really well-developed arms. That’s because strong arms will help to drive your legs.”
On strength-training days, Casele and co-director Jeff Ehrich lead a workout that includes calisthenics and plyometrics.
“These increase explosive strength, which helps with sprinting,” Casele explained. “We’re focused on endurance-type strength, not bulk strength.”
Other exercises in the workout also benefit runners.
“A lot of runners focus only on distance,” Casele said. “We can help them open up their stride and get the full range of motion. That translates to making you a better distance runner.”
For many triathletes, the arrival of spring coincides with triathlon season.
A number of Legion Fitness participants are training for spring triathlons in April and May by combining the program’s swim, strength and running days with weekend cycling training.
“We also have people who will be doing the USA Fit running workouts and training for road races,” Casele said.
Not everyone who participates in Legion Fitness’ workouts is ready to compete or even interested in pursuing that goal, and Casele welcomes those individuals.
“We started the Galveston program as more of a wellness program for employees at the Galvez and Tremont House hotels,” he said. “Most of them didn’t have a strong fitness background, and we developed a good low-impact program for them.”
Casele explained that, since the workouts are self-paced, beginners have the opportunity to work to the best of their ability without being pressured to keep up with the group’s leaders.
“Most of our drills are based on time, so if someone completes 10 repetitions in the same time as someone else can do 20, that’s OK,” he said.
Similarly, weight workouts are done with each individual choosing a weight that is challenging but manageable.
While Legion Fitness enrolls participants at any time, USA Fit Spring Training has a specific beginning date — Monday — and runs for 12 weeks.
The program meets twice each week with the goal of improving the pace of both runners and walkers.
“We have four training groups going at the same time,” USA Fit coach Kim Bachmeier explained. “One is for walkers, one is for walkers transitioning to running and two are for runners already able to complete a 5K.”
The USA Fit program is based on interval training designed to improve speed, power, endurance and overall fitness.
“Our fall program, which is longer, is geared more toward distance events,” Bachmeier said. “Our spring training focuses on speed. Our walkers see big improvements, cutting several minutes per mile off their pace. Over a long distance, it makes a huge difference.”
In addition to running and walking, USA Fit members work on core stability, proper form and nutrition.
Online enrollment for Legion Fitness programs is available at legionfd.com.
Registration for USA Fit Spring Training is available online at USAFitGalveston.com or by calling Bachmeier at 409-539-5150.
Bernice Torregrossa is a five-time marathoner and a water exercise instructor. She can be reached at email@example.com.