Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"Off-Season"

I love being in training mode - following a plan with prescribed workouts on most days (often more than one per day), target paces, race expectations and even the pressure that sometimes comes along with it. I enjoy counting down the weeks and days before an "A" race, pouring over weekly and monthly mileage totals, and even the challenge of fitting it all in.

That being said, I really enjoy the off-season.

I only had a few weeks "off" between my BQ race in May and starting training for my fall marathon. In hindsight, I probably should have shortened the cycle to allow a longer break in between, but my training group was gearing up again and I was set on another 18-week cycle. It all worked out in the end, but there were several times over the summer that I felt burnt out and run down from training. I was over it and wishing for the cycle to just end already so I could take a break. I ended up finding my mojo again, but I have definitely been looking forward to this post-marathon break.

With Boston being an early-season marathon, I've decided to cut my next training cycle by a few weeks in favour of more downtime before kicking it off. I will be taking the rest of the year off formal training so that I can kick off a new training plan in January fresh and raring to go - giving me a solid 15 weeks before Boston.

After that I'll be heading into some serious tri training, so it's important that I take advantage of this freedom now so that my mind and body are fresh for a big year ahead. 

Of course I will still be running (and swimming and cycling), but I get to do it when I want, if I want, how far I want, how fast I want, etc. I admittedly have a general idea of weekly mileage and long run distances that I would like to maintain in order to start training with a strong base, but these are very comfortable targets - just enough to keep me active and feeling good.

A sure sign of the "off-season" - finishing runs without rounding up to the next even distance. :)



How much time do you like to give yourself between training cycles?

How do you spend your "off-season"?

30 comments:

Robin said...

I think we all need to cycle our training and races, especially after a full marathon. Our bodies need the break to fully recover. I find that if I don't give myself some time off, my body starts breaking down, as does my mind. In the off season I usually up my weights and other style of workout for a change of pace. Enjoy your short break. www.dashingdiva.net

Robin said...

My training starts this week for Boston, and is 24 weeks. However, my plan and a plan like you would follow are probably very different. My plan is probably the equivalent of your "down time" training lol. Because of my restrictions (have to run on treadmill during week), I limit the distance I run in the evenings which in turn, limits the training plans I can follow. Enjoy your down time, you certainly deserve it. You'll have a heavy year of training ahead of you I'm sure and you want to be at your best!

Lisa said...

last year i did long slow runs on the weekend all winter. no pace goals, no pressure. I was helping some friends with their marathon training so it worked for me.

This year i don't know what is going to happen. i feel like i need SOMETHING even a fun little 5K to keep me on track

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner said...

I think a break (both physically and mentally) is a good idea. I'm currently on my FIRST ever real training cycle, so when it ends I plan on allowing myself plenty of rest before gearing up for the next one.

Heather said...

Sounds like a really good plan to renew and refresh you before hitting the Boston (and 1/2 ironman!) training hardcore. Enjoy!

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Following IMKY I decided to give myself 3 months off. Although I am following a off season structure the distance is much shorter and the plan is flexible. NO early A.M. workouts and a pass to skip one if I decide to jump in some other fun.

Scott and I are REALLY enjoying working out together!! For now that is a true gift to me;)

We will begin a true focus on Dec.1st.

Runners Fuel said...

Yep. My next half is in March. So, I start back at training in Dec.

Denise said...

very good!! take some time, you've had a killer year. it will only help as you tackle next year!

as for taking time off, i'm not sure i've ever not been training for something. but i need it that way!

Cindy said...

for my off season, i still run but i try to cross train more and get my strength up...i find it takes such a hit with concentrating so much on cardio. i'm focussing more on speed next year and the half marathon distance so i'm going to try to start the "new rules of lifting for women" program to build upper body and length strength, which i hope will help translate to speed!

runnergirl training said...

Great post! I too enjoy off season training. Really improves running performance!

J said...

I am excited for the off season too - if only to help me get back into a routine of stretching, going to the gym, and cross training. And there is the HBBC! Just love this time of year! Taking time to rest is good - it will definitely help you get back to running fast in 2012!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

Haha that is funny! I struggle with not rounding my runs up to the next even distance ALL the time though!

I am loving being "off" right now too. I am running when I feel like it and sometimes that's only 2-3 times a week and more often than not lately it's been in the trails, which I love love love! I starting marathon training in January as well so I want to enjoy this time as much as possible while I can!

robinbb said...

Out of 4 years of running, I never gave myself any time off other than for injury. After my marathon in May, I knew my body was tired and gave myself an entire off season. I trained for a half marathon but really took it easy compared to my normal marathon training. I think it really helped as I was so excited to jump into marathon training 2 weeks ago.

Leana said...

Having an off season sounds like a great plan! I think that was part of why I crashed so badly after Ironman...I was also training from one event to the next and after Ironman my brain and body said no!!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

I run every day so I don't really have a training cycle. My mileage and runs vary depending on what I have coming up. Currently I wish I was better prepared for my next two races but I will only get out of them what I put into my time. So after the mid-Nov 50, I'll shift into weight loss, strength work and keeping a steady base for anything that pops up over winter. That way I'll be ready for early spring ultra season and hopefully will start the season much lighter and stronger than I am now!
Time off? Not really, just a shift in focus.

Jason said...

I spend my off season training. I will get two weeks after Vegas before stepping up to get ready for Puerto Rico.

I love the training and outside of two days this year did I feel burnt out. I think there are a lot of things that go into this mindset and that is the support I get from my wife and the freedom I have from my job.

Having a great coach to prescribe rest days and recovery training days is a huge help to keeping me mentally sharp as well.

destination262 said...

Oh how exciting! I think it will be a refreshing change to be able to do whatever you when you want. That is kind of where I am at right now too. I like to spend my off season, figuring out when my next race is going to be and then making a race plan.

TNTcoach Ken said...

Yeah I know what you mean, I have the Olympics coming up soon............ LOL

Aneta said...

enjoy ur off season! sleep lots and rest up! it will be training time before you know it!

Teamarcia said...

Enjoy your 'off season'! I love a clean break in training where I focus on strength, flexibility or whatever else I tend to neglect while 'in training'. Beneficial mentally and physically.

MCM Mama said...

I can't remember the last time I was following a training plan. LOL

Right now my goal is just to get back into a regular running habit and to slowly (way slower than the 10% rule) build my mileage again.

Enjoy your "low pressure" time. ;o)

Char said...

You're so sensible Marlene. I'm taking a longish break now and really enjoying the lack of pressure. And you'll be looking forward to jumping back into things when the time comes.

Christine said...

Great post! I'm just thinking the same thing. Last weekend was my last race and my next training cycle will start January 1. I'm trying to find out what to do until then. I;m worried without a plan I won't get many runs in and that I will lose all my cardio. How do you build a strong base?

Laura said...

Our official clinic starts up again the end of November so I will have a couple of weeks of chilling and just running whatever I feel like. We do a long session over the winter(Nov- May) so the break is a needed one.

dietitianontherun.com said...

Off season is totally crucial to keeping things sane around here! :) I need the mental and physical break. I love having weeks where I can do a lot of yoga and not worry about a Long Run, or do a track workout with the group and not worry about my pace or goals. I also love the idea of going for a hike or bike ride with D while it's still relatively nice out! :)

Enjoy every day of this "down" time - uneven runs n' all, ha.

Jill said...

I don't think you need as long of a training cycle for someone as seasoned as you are marathoning. 18 weeks is great when you're starting from the bottom, but you aren't. Enjoy this break (and be sure to get in some hill training for Boston...those hills at Newton are not easy. bleh!).

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Although my training is never like yours, I agree that it's nice to have a little break in between training for things- like you I'll still work out but I just won't be as strict about it, which is nice!

Joanna said...

Ok, so I am not a good person to ask about time between training cycles right at the moment. :) But I know what you mean. I love the training cycle, and I need the down time when it's over. Relax and have fun 'til the new year!

Aron said...

GOOD GIRL giving yourself this break... your body and mind will benefit from it :)

I have been enjoying my "off season" for 2 months now! After way too many races in a row and getting burned out, I am finally getting the itch to be on a training plan again :) stay tuned ;)