Running 101: How to Have a Successful Running Off-Season

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | running tips

Jun 28

Have you heard of having a running off-season?  It’s the most amazing thing ever – if you do it right!

It’s time for a new topic in my Running 101 monthly series!  I hope you’ve enjoyed the series so far!  I’ve previously shared the following Running 101 topics:

For this month, I thought it would be fitting to talk about the running and racing off-season.  While I know many runners are preparing for marathons right now, for many of us, this is the time to take a little break, rest, and rejuvenate before starting another round of training!  This is an essential part of being a runner, so I hope you appreciate these few tips!

I’m linking up with MarciaPatty, and Erika for Tuesdays on the RunSusie, Debbie, Lora, and Rachel for the Running Coaches Corner and Annmarie, Nicole, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday!  

Learn how to have a successful running off-season with these tips for this month's Running 101! #runchat #bibchat Click To Tweet

Are you at the end of your racing season? What do you do next? Check out the last Running 101 post that shares a few tips on how to have a successful off-season!

Tips for a Successful Running Off-Season

If you thought that a running off-season was just for professional, elite athletes – you’re wrong!  If you’ve been bit by the running bug and run a lot of races throughout the year, it’s important to have a period of time to recover from all of your hard work – and that’s where the off-season comes in.

For example, here’s what I did in 2016 to give you an idea of how it can be done in all 4 seasons:

  • Winter Training:  Late January – March
  • Spring Training/Racing: March – mid-June
  • Summer Off-Season:  Low mileage mid-June to August
  • Summer Training/Racing:  August – late September
  • Fall Training/Racing:  late September – late November
  • Fall/Winter Off-Season:  Low mileage late November – late January

Here are a few tips on how to have a great running off-season and be able to come back strong for your next training cycle!

Take Care Of Any Potential Injuries

When you’re in the grind of race training, let’s be honest – sometimes you don’t take the best care of yourself because you’re so focused on getting those runs done.  How many times did you skip foam rolling?  Have you had any hint of a potential injury that you’ve ignored?

You may also like:  Time Management Tips for Race Training

The off-season is the perfect time to finally follow up on these matters.  Personally, I’ve been having issues with my right knee, so I’m GLAD to have this time to really slow down, consistently work on my rehab exercises, and recover over time.  Take advantage of the off-season and make appointments with all of the doctors and specialists that you need – massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists!   If your injury is serious, always consult with a medical professional!

Maintain a Healthy(ish) Diet

Some people are very serious about their nutrition while training; some people eat whatever they want.  I tend to be somewhere in the middle, though I always believe I can do a better job of eating healthy.

When you back off of running during the off-season, it’s still important to keep an eye on what you eat.  When I’m training for races, time feels even more finite than it actually is.  I always say that “If I had more time, I would make this, I would prepare that“.  So now that I have all of this extra time, my plan is to finally get rid of the excuses and get cooking!  I have hundreds of healthy recipes just waiting for me to explore on my Pinterest page.  Last week I made Julie’s Southwest Black Bean Burgers for a few nights’ dinner and it was a big hit!

Do what you can to eat well, but at the same time, don’t add too much pressure on yourself.  If you gain a few pounds during the off-season, that’s okay!  The most important thing is to listen to your body and enjoy your life!  Balance is key.

Cut Back on Running, But Stay Active!

Checking out CorePower Yoga over the winter

Your running mileage and frequency should be significantly reduced during your off-season. But that doesn’t mean you should become a slouch!  If you love to run, it’s probably a bit of a struggle to run less often…so it’s great that you can still maintain fitness with other activities.  Here are a few ideas, but it all depends on what you like to do:

  • Take walks in your neighborhood or go hiking on a trail
  • Try a new fitness class like spinning, boot camp, or barre (my personal favorite)
  • Go for a run just for fun…imagine that!

Coach Suzy also has some great tips on things you can do to stay active between training cycles.

Enjoy Your Other Hobbies/Passions

If only they were still this little!

Another way to make the most of your running off-season is to enjoy life!  Sometimes training puts other activities on the backburner – happy hours, community events, even quality time with family and friends.   Take advantage of this time off and do all of those fun things that you enjoy, even if it’s just simply staying home and catching up on Netflix – I recommend checking out Master of None, I still need to watch Season 2!

It’s really nice to be able to get back to a more relaxing lifestyle.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m training, my priorities drastically shift and I miss out on a lot of activities.  Even though it feels weird to come home straight from work and not have to go for a run, it’s exactly what my body needs right now.  I’ve been having a great time at home, doing things around the house, or just doing nothing at all and lounging on the couch with Bret and the kitties!

Mentally Prepare for What Comes Next

My last piece of advice for a successful off-season is to start getting mentally prepared for your next round of training.  This doesn’t have to be done right away but should be in the back of your mind.  Think about the races you have on the horizon, the goals for each race, and how you plan to get there.  What expenses do you have to make in order to prepare – travel arrangements, new running gear? Getting mentally prepared can provide just the right motivation to not get “too comfortable” and remember the big picture!

Here’s what I’ll be doing in my summer off-season – I have 2 half marathons in the fall and I’m hoping to shave off another minute of my PR if possible.  I know that I’ll have to work on speed so I’m thinking about how my running coach will implement speed work in my new training plan.  I just bought my first Garmin watch (farewell Nike+!) and I’m wondering what brand of shoes to move on to since my current pair is not working out for me.  These are all things that are exciting to me as I hope to continue my positive momentum and have a great fall racing season!

I really hope you enjoyed this month’s Running 101 topic!  The off-season is a great time to actually become a stronger runner, as long as you take the right steps to ensure that you’re healthy and raring to go for your next round of races!

Do you enjoy the running off-season?  What do you do to make the most of it?

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