I feel pretty safe in saying that for most runners, the season is pretty much over. Ok, you Rehoboth Beach and CIM people still have 26.2 to run this weekend, but the rest of us are pretty much footloose and fancy free right now. (For some of us, that’s forced footloose, ahem). ANYHOW–in my opinion, there’s lots that can be done during this “downtime” to help prepare for the 2014 year of running. My top five tips for making the most of the off season:
- Strength train/rehab–This is the perfect time to get stronger for next spring. No more “saving the legs” excuses. If you’re not racing any time soon, you don’t have to keep anything in the reserves, so use this time to concentrate on your strength work. Had a niggle last year and suspect it originated from an area you neglect? Perfect time to rehab as well.
- Crosstrain–Normally I’m a sport specific advocate–to get faster at running I believe you should run. But the off season is a great time to spend some time doing other activities, both for the mental and physical break. This will also fine tune some supporting muscles that don’t get much play from daily running, something that helps build a better overall machine.
- Sharpen your nutrition–Tough to do during the holidays, I know, but during the offseason you probably have a bit more time to concentrate on your cooking and your diet. Put into practice any changes you’ve wanted to make but haven’t thanks to your busy schedule. If you’re local, my RD friend Becky has a great session on off-season maintenance eating this Saturday–check it out!
- Lay down a base–you know I’m a believer in low heart rate training to establish a base. I did it last summer and trust me, it’s a tough time to do it. But the off season, when the temperatures are cooler and when you don’t have a race right in front of you, is a great time to take this valuable step. It’s something I will do faithfully every year now post-season to ensure my body knows to use fat for fuel in the coming season.
- Rest up–We all need a period during the year where we give ourselves permission to sleep in on occasion, yes, even skipping a run or two (or three). It’s good for the mind and body and keeps us fresh and wanting to get back at the harder training when the time rolls around again. Do it!
Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies, not allowing ourselves this off season. But trust me, in order to continually move forward, sometimes you need to go a tiny bit backward and allow a small loss of fitness. It keeps the body fresh and the mental fires burning for those days to come when we dream of a little downtime. Don’t miss your chance!
How do you spend your off season?