My Running Off-Season

We’re almost through the Polar Vortex! Temperatures dropped down to -8F yesterday afternoon with a -35F windchill. The windchill was horrible, terrible, awful, and something I hope to never experience again. I enjoyed last night and this evening sitting by the fire with my husband and puppy. While I did get to the gym Monday morning before the weather got ridiculously cold, snuggling on the couch Monday night and tonight allowed me to reflect on my running off-season.

In fall of 2012 I made the decision to step up my running and began getting in shape to run my first half marathon. I pretty much haven’t stopped running since! My first half was in May which just led to beautiful springtime runs that rolled into the summer. Summer was when I discovered my love of early-morning runs. Before I knew it, it was time to transition into training for my November half and the fall temperatures were a welcome relief from the summer humidity. When my second half got closer, I started to think about life post-race. I knew the winter was coming (DREADMILL!) and that I would have 10 weeks before I had to start training again for my race in May. I knew I needed a break, but I didn’t want to lose my fitness and I knew I couldn’t give up running altogether. Luckily I stumbled on this great article from Runners World. While some were gearing up for the RW Run Streak, I was looking forward to a shake up in my schedule and getting to enjoy a lot of time with my family during Christmas.

I did some research on Hal Higdon’s training website and found a great winter training program. What I liked about it was that the running was for time instead of miles – I knew this would be a perfect way to motivate myself on the treadmill. As always, I tailored it for myself and my timeline by cutting the weekday runs down to two (typically 45 minutes one day and 30 the other) and a longer time on the Saturday. Since it’s my off-season and I run on the treadmill at my regular “conversational” pace, I cut out tempo runs completely. I generally walk the dog one mile per day and made it a point to make sure to use my foam roller. While I was visiting family I enjoyed a change of scenery with some shorter outdoor runs, including one with my sister.

I feel fantastic! I am motivated, but I don’t feel pressured to get to theg ym. Though I still hit the gym twice a week, I like being able to say “I’ll go on Thursday instead of Wednesday” (which is my current thought for this week). I have been working on my training schedule for my May race and looking into shorter distance races to run over the course of the year before my half marathon in the fall. Oh, and I’ve been getting a lot of rest. I did get on the trail for an 8 mile run last week and had such a blast running in the falling snow that I ended up with one of my best times for that route. This gave me even more confidence in the power of the off-season. I’m looking forward to getting back to training, but I will cherish every second of these last 2.5 weeks of my off season.

Happy running!

When do you take an off season? What do you do? What’s your favorite part of taking a break from training?

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