Why Runners Should Have an Off-Season

Why runners should have an off-season | happyfitmama.comI mentioned in my weekly workout rundown that I am in the off-season now. What exactly does that mean. Am I taking time off from running until I find my next race? Am I sitting on the couch binge watching every show on Bravo?

Not at all.

The off-season can have different meanings. For me, it means that I’m reducing my mileage and running whatever I want without any pace or distance goals and no race specific workouts. I’m still running. I’m still going to the gym to cross train and strength train.

One of the big things I’m working on (or continuing to work on) is my ankle strength. Since spraining my ankle at Loon Mountain Race in July, my ankle hasn’t felt as strong as it did prior. There was a patch of time where I was rolling it every single weekend. Thankfully, it wasn’t anything major but all that added up. Going into VT50k, one of my main worries was the strength of my ankle. I didn’t want to sprain it at any point in the race. I’m using the off-season to let my ankle recover and build some more strength.

A typical off-season can last from 4-8 weeks.  Sometimes it can last longer. It’s a time of reset, renewal and planning for the next adventure.  So if your off-season has already started or if it’s coming up quick, here’s 4 things you can do to make it restful and fun.

Do things that you enjoy

Yeah, yeah, I know.  You enjoy running. Duh. The off-season is a time to do workouts that you pushed aside because you were running so much or you didn’t want to get injured. Maybe it’s a boxing class, hiking, mountain biking, or salsa dancing. If you enjoy it, do it more!

Kick up the cross training

Cut out a day or two of running and add it some cross training. Hit the pool for a no impact workout that will leave you feeling like you ran 20 miles. Or take a spin class to get those legs cooking. Cross training will enhance your running yet without beating up your body.

Maybe I need to get a wet suit for more SUP time?

Forget about your GPS watch

Notice I said forget about it. I didn’t say leave it at home. That’s just crazy talk. At least for me. In the off-season, don’t worry about pace and distance. Let your body dictate all of that. I am still wearing my GPS watch because I like to see the numbers AFTER my run is done. For instance, yesterday when I finished my trail run, I noticed that I stopped at 8.79 miles. Usually, that would drive me bonkers. I’d run another .21 miles to make it an even 9. Not off-season me. I hit save on my watch and was done.

Go for the gains

I know it’s cliche but seriously, hit the weights. The off-season is a great time to build strength before you increase your running distance and intensity again. You won’t skimp on the weights with the excuse that “I don’t want to be sore for my run workout tomorrow”. Why?  Because it’s the off-season and you won’t have a running workout.

Oh, hey there, pull ups. I kind of have forgotten about you.

Plan for your next goal

The off-season is a great time to re-evaluate your season. What could have you done differently? What did you do right? With that in mind, start thinking about where you’d like to go from there. Do you have a distance or time based goal?  Is your goal to run happy and injury free? Start mapping out a a plan or consult with a coach to give you that next goal to chase for an extra dose of motivation for the new season ahead.

What are you doing in your off-season?

Linking up with Coaches Corner.

9 comments on “Why Runners Should Have an Off-Season

  1. I love off-season in winter when I can enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, and just laid-back winter runs. It’s fun to relax and enjoy shorter runs after months of hard training!

  2. I almost always (at least in recent years) have a big race in the fall, so once that’s over, my off-season starts. Like you, I still run, but I do short runs (with an occasional long run, maybe, on a random weekend). We don’t have much happening in Iowa through the winter, so I usually do the Runner’s World Winter Streak…running at least a mile every day Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. The majority of those streak runs are 1-milers, and they are easy (10ish minute pace). For me, it’s a very doable short-term goal, and it gets me through the winter solstice 😉

  3. I am doing all of the above! Resting this week but I’m planning to do some biking and swimming next week before easing back into running. Plus more strength in this off season- and definitely having fun planning out my 2020 races and goals!

  4. Super helpful. Cross training has definitely been a casualty of the marathon training and I really want to re-incorporate it and hopefully fix the left leg with probably more PT.

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