One of the wonderful things about our sport is that it’s something that can be done year-round.
Literally, any weekend of the year, at least pre-pandemic, if you want to run a race you can find a race to run.
For those who really like racing, this is obviously a wonderful thing.
But is it a case of too much of a good thing?
An Off-Season Isn’t as Bad as You (Might) Think
For some runners, off-season is a dirty word.
But it doesn’t have to be.
In many circumstances, it could be the missing piece to continual growth/progress over time.
And before we go too deep into the weeds here, let me say one thing: by off-season I don’t necessarily mean an extended period of no running at all.
For some, that might be the right option.
But for most of us, myself included, not running for a couple of months is pretty much a non-starter.
So How Do You Define Off-Season?
That’s what I mean by off-season.
Cut back your mileage a bit.
Skip the hard workouts and just run easy.
What’s the Point?
If you’re still reading, odds are you’re at least open to the idea of taking a bit of an off-season at some point.
But you may be wondering what is the point of an off-season.
And how taking one could be the missing piece toward making progress in your goals going forward.
I don’t care how much you love running, if you keep grinding indefinitely you’re almost certainly going to feel burned out eventually.
And physically, if you just keep logging miles ad nauseam you’re increasing the possibility of breaking down physically from the repetitive wear and tear of our sport.
An extended off-season allows both the mind and the body to refresh and rejuvenate before you jump into the training for your next big race.
You may be sick of me talking about building your base all the time, so apologies in advance.
An off-season helps you resolidify your base.
The stronger your base of fitness, the more you can build upon it.
The off-season gives you a chance to rebuild and resolidify your base before you start building up to your next race.
When you keep moving from one race to the next, it’s easy to lose focus on your longer-term running goals.
And then, quite accidentally, you can actually start moving away from your bigger goals instead of moving toward them.
Taking an off-season allows you a bit of space to refocus on your big goals and make sure that you’re making progress in that direction.
Planning for an Off-Season
There is no “perfect” time to take an off-season.
To me, after a big goal race kind of makes the most logical sense.
But there are definitely other factors to consider.
Other races. Life stuff. Weather considerations.
Over the course of the next 12 months, I’m confident that you can find a period of 6-8 weeks where an off-season would actually be quite welcome.
Maybe it’s from now through the end of the year. Or during the summer months. Or after your spring goal race.
The hard part isn’t necessarily finding the time, it’s making it happen.
My challenge to you?
Make it happen.
Have You Ever Taken an Off-Season from Running? How’d it Go for You?
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