How To Stay Fit in the Running Off-Season

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | fitness

Dec 09

When you’ve finished your big races for the year, what do you to keep in running shape?

It’s so easy to fall back and relax once the race is over, but before you know it, it’ll be time to start training again!   When that time comes, you don’t want to start from scratch, so it’s essential that you keep your fitness at a level that will make your training process as seamless as possible.

But how do you actually do it??

Today I’m linking up at Wild Workout Wednesday with Annmarie at The Fit Foodie Mama, Angelena Marie at Angelena Marie: Happy, Healthy & Balanced, Michelle at Fruition Fitness, and Nicole at Fitful Focus!   Check out their blogs to pick up some awesome workouts!

Runners: Races may be cancelled/postponed but you can still learn tips on how to stay fit in the off-season! Share on X
Once race training stops, it's so hard to keep up your fitness! Learn some great tips on how to stay fit in the running off-season, and find more running tips at!

Stay Fit in the Running Off-Season

Race training for me probably won’t begin until mid- to late-January.  So in order to be ready for consistent running, it’s important for me to keep up my fitness as best as possible over the next month!

Below are 5 tips that will help you stay fit in the running off-season so that you can hit the ground running for your next training cycle! Running regularly while not training for a race can be a really fun time, if you make the most of it!

Create a Weekly Workout Routine

The biggest challenge for me when it comes to working out is making it a regular part of my daily life.  Honestly, if I didn’t work with a running coach or follow an online training plan, there’s no way I’d run as consistently as I do.  I’ve learned that without structure, I crumble.  So here’s what you can do to create a weekly workout routine that works:

  • Look at your week and give yourself a realistic schedule.  Create a routine that you know you can commit to.  Look at times before, during, or after work hours where you can fit in a workout.  Note appointments that you know you can’t miss in advance.  I like to look at each week at a time, since so much is always going on!
  • Find a fitness challenge that you can follow daily or weekly. There are so many options that you can easily find on Instagram!  One of my favorites was the City Fit Girls December Strong Challenge.  You don’t have to follow the challenges perfectly, but it gives you a compass to guide you to stay on track.
City Fit Girls is hosting the December Strong Fitness Challenge to stay in shape in the running offseason! Connect on to find out how to win a spring race entry in 2016!
Here’s a great routine created by City Fit Girls!

Try a New Fitness Class

After spending months training for several days a week, running can get a little boring!  I know that when I train, running is my #1 priority, and doing other workouts takes a back seat.  Now that I’m in the off-season, I can really take advantage of the time to do the other workouts that I enjoy, or I can try something completely new!

Right now I’m taking Boot Camp and Pilates classes at the gym at work.  It’s really refreshing to work more with free weights and finally do all the stretching and lunges that are so good for my body!  Here are some other examples of great fitness options to do in the off-season:

  • Yoga – one of my favorites, and really helps with strength and flexibility
  • Kickboxing – great cardio!
  • Zumba – more fun and uptempo
  • Barre – challenging and works those running muscles
  • Bodypump – strength training is so important!
  • Cycling/Spinning – always a great way to cross-train – check out my review from The Wall Cycling Studio in Manayunk!
  • Swimming – works so many muscles!

Here are just a couple of reasons why fitness classes can be great during the off-season:

  • They add variety.  If you like to do a lot of things or are interested in trying a new workout, now is a great time to do it.  Variety is great because it will also help you work out different areas of your body, which is beneficial to you as a runner.
  • They’re motivating.  I know for me when I work out alone, I don’t push myself as hard.  Having a group of people not just watching you but cheering you on and struggling with you really makes a difference.

Just make sure that whatever you decide to do, don’t overdo it!  Try to be somewhat conservative in your first class to avoid a potential injury, and once you develop your comfort zone, feel free to color outside the lines for a bit!

Keep on Running, But Lower the Intensity

The best thing about not being on a training plan is that you’re free to run when you want and as long or far as you want.  But at the same time, you don’t want to push yourself too hard!

If you do something like the Runner’s World Run Streak, make sure that you keep your intensity low, especially if you’re prone to injury.  Take this time to slow your pace and/or run shorter distances.  It’s still a good idea to keep up your long runs, but don’t go too fast!

I know from personal experience what it’s like to get injured in the off-season.  I was trying to become a “minimalist” runner to “fix” my form, wearing Newtons, and pushing myself way too much on my runs.  Two months later, I had a stress fracture in my foot, and I ended my season of running before I even started.  I essentially lost a year of running.

You may also like:  Running 101: How to Have a Successful Running Off-Season

So again – enjoy your runs, but be smart!

I do NOT miss these days...
I do NOT miss these days…

Sign Up for a Fun Run

Training for a race can be really intense, especially if you’re shooting for a PR.  The only time you may actually have “fun” training is during a speed workout or if you’re running with a fun group of people.  You can get burned out from taking things too seriously…believe me.

When you’re in the off-season, it’s so important to get back to FUN running and remember why you do it in the first place.  That’s why it’s a great idea to sign up for a fun run during the off-season.  You can just show up and run with no pressure!

This weekend I’m doing a Rudolph Run, my first holiday 5K.  It’s a great way to keep engaged with running, but focus on purely enjoying myself while also supporting a charity.  Plus I get a Rudolph nose and jingle bells to wear!  In Philly, there’s also a popular Holiday Lights Run that takes people down to South Philly to enjoy the scenery.  Take a look and see what fun runs are taking place in your neighborhood, and just join in!  If it’s free, even better!

Maintain a Healthy Diet

When you’re training for a race, you probably give yourself liberties to eat what you want because you’ll just “burn it off”.  I know I do!  But when the training ends, the overeating needs to end too.

Of course, it’s not easy around the holidays when there are so many parties with amazing food and drinks!  Don’t deprive yourself too much, but don’t go all-out either!  Balance is key!

I’ve been working with a dietitian for a couple of years now and I recently checked in with her because I know my bad habits this time of year and needed a swift kick in the pants to remember to eat more veggies and protein and less carbs and sugars.  Always listen to your body!

All in all, when you’re in the running off-season, following these tips will be SO helpful for maintaining your fitness!  Be sure to do what you need to do to keep yourself in check, and once training season kicks in, you’ll be good to go!

Workouts for the Week:

Wednesday 12/2:  Continuation of the abs and squats challenge:  20 sit-ups, 15 crunches, 30 squats!  I haven’t done sit-ups in years, I’m just glad I can get through them!

Thursday 12/3:  I took it as a rest day.  I wanted to run, but the temperature has dropped and my cold is still acting up.

Friday 12/4:  Abs and squats challenge:  5 sit-ups, 20 crunches, 35 squats.  I finally went for my first run since the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon.  Bret and I ran 4 miles, and I wore my new running shoes – Mizuno Wave Rider 19’s.  I have to admit they’re a

Saturday 12/5:  Abs and squats challenge:  10 sit-ups, 25 crunches, 40 squats.

Sunday 12/6:  Abs and squats challenge:  5 sit-ups, 10  crunches, 20 squats.  We had a late night, so we didn’t get to do our morning long run.

Monday 12/7:   Boot Camp Class was an amazing workout!  We did so much:

  • 7 sets of the following:  run up and down the stairs twice, 10 wall push ups.
  • 10 sets of the following:  run up and down the stairs once, 10 squats, 8 wall pushups.
  • 3 sets of 45-second jacks while lifting a 3 pound weight
  • 3 sets of 45-second standing sprints
  • 2 sets of heavy rope swings with squats for 30 seconds
  • 2 sets of heavy ball slams for 30 seconds
  • 3 sets of 10 TRX push ups and rows
  • 3 sets of crunches on an exercise ball for 45 seconds
  • 3 sets of side crunches on an exercise ball for 45 seconds

Phew!  I figured I covered my abs and squats for the day!

Tuesday 12/8:  Core Fusion Class.  It was pretty challenging – my flexibility isn’t where I’d like it to be, and getting my breathing right is a struggle. I also ran 3 miles with Shack Track and Field as part of the Running Club Roundup!  Check out the recap tomorrow!    I ended the night with the abs and squats challenge:  20 sit-ups, 55 squats.

What do you do to stay fit in between race training?  

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