Running in the off-season: crossing frosty fields under clear blue skies

Running in the off-season

It’s been two weeks today. Two whole weeks of no running. Except the three times I ran for half an hour. But considering the amount of half hours there are in a week, three times half an hour is the same as not running, right? I’m now in the prospect of Running in the off-season. What should that look like?

Race is over. What now?

For the past week or so I have been thinking about my running plans for the upcoming months. There are three things I have to take in consideration in planning out the months ahead:

  1. It is October, all my races are over, I have to plan for running in the off-season.
  2. The early months of 2023 are busy: in Januari i’m running a half marathon, in march a 10k run, and in April is my first peak race of 2023: the Rotterdam Marathon.
  3. From januari to April I want to do double duty. Two days a week I want to run twice a day to build some extra volume in my weekly training. I’m still in the process of working out the details together with my coach.

So, what is the focus of my off-season?

My coach and I decided that my focus for the upcoming months should be on my running form. There are some slight improvements here and there that might make me faster, but also help me in preventing injury. I also need to focus on strength training. As I want to increase my weekly training load, and want to go for running twice a day. basically I have to take some extra care of the body because of the increased load that is coming up.

What should running in the off-season look like then?

As the racing season comes to an end and you are leaving race recovery behind, you want to get yourself fit and ready for the next season. Now is not the time to do those tough tempo workouts, or the ultra long runs. You should work on your base fitness. It is important that you reduce the strain on your body and focus on getting strong and ready for a new training cycle.

Having done all your races this year, you’ve probably got a good idea of where your weaknesses are. In my case I’ve found some weak spots in my hips and upper legs. Nothing dramatic, but i’m sure that I will become faster with some extra focus there.

This means that in my off-season I will go from running six or seven times a week to running four or five times a week (which I find very scary. I am quite satisfied with going out a lot). Instead I will schedule a longer strength programme twice a week. It takes a lot more mental toughness to put myself to work here. I don’t like working out in a gym, I want to go out and play.

When do go outside for running, I will put some extra effort in plyometrics (in my warm up) and other running form training. This also means that I will call in the help of friends to do some filming of my running, which I then analyse with my coach. I suggest that you do the same. The off-season is a great time to tweak your running as you don’t feel the pressure of races that are coming up.

Should you do long runs in the off-season?

I do long runs year-round. However, in the off-season my long runs are significantly reduced in length. I think for this year my longest run will be about one and a half hour, or one hour forty minutes. Remember: the goal is to maintain (or slightly improve) the base fitness, not to stress the body.

Should you do tempo work in the off-season?

This really depends. Some enjoy just going out for easy runs in the off-season. Others do a little tempo work too. As I also run at an athletics club, I still do my 400s and 200s around the track, but i’ll just take it a little slower this time of the year.

Don’t worry if you do not feel like doing tempo work, though. It is much more important to maintain your aerobic base than it is to maintain your speed as a distance runner. You are back up to speed in a couple of weeks when racing season starts (really, you are. Especially as a distance runner), whereas gaining your aerobic base takes much longer. So it’s perfectly fine if you just want to go through the cold, rainy, dark days of winter, just boppin’ along the neighbourhood. Just get your easy miles in.

I’m already looking forward to racing in 2023!

How are you planning your off-season?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *