Offseason training for runners
You’re a recreational runner and you love doing races but do you take time off from racing season? I’ve meet many runners and a lot of them don’t set up their training into in season training and offseason training. Many of the people that fail to set up an off season end up burnt out or with an injury.
When I go into an offseason I try to look at weaknesses that I had during my in-season training and what fell apart during my race. If I couldn’t get my legs turning over quickly I will focus on speed. If I felt like I ran out of gas I may focus on doing some base building. If my joints were tight and my body was beat up I may focus on strength training.
Usually I focus on strength training and speed work during the offseason because I tend to run at a high volume of 60-70 miles per week before a half or full marathon. This places a lot of stress on the body and I need time to allow my body to rebuild. Even if you’re doing lower volume that me you should plan offseason training it will pay off down the road.
Here are some things to focus on during your offseason.
Focus on different distances
Let’s say you just finished a marathon program and you are left wondering what to do after it’s over. Should you run a marathon right away? No, you shouldn’t because this may lead to burnout or injury. You may feel like you have built up a ton of fitness and you might want to carry that fitness into marathon right away. This can be very stressful to the body and you shouldn’t’ do it. Instead focus on 5k or 10k training. Changing to a shorter distance will help you to gain your leg speed back quickly and you will keep most of your aerobic base. When you get ready for your next marathon you’ll be set up nicely for base building.
When you train for a half or full marathon your body will be left somewhat broken. You will lose strength and you will lose muscle. Now that you’re moving into offseason you will have time hit the weight room. When you’re building strength, you will get the bones and muscles prepped for the next training cycle.
When doing a strength training program your focus should be on big lifts like squats, deadlifts, pull ups, rows, shoulder press and bench press. Core training is also a good idea when you’re in an offseason.
How to start strength training:
If you’re new to strength training you should focus on body weight exercises to start with then move on to using a multi joint barbell lifts. The main lifts you focus on are the barbell squat, barbell deadlift, barbell bench press and the overhead barbell press.
Here’s look at what each exercise is and how to do them.
The squat: When doing the squat, you will want to start with just your body weight. Place your feet little wider than hip width apart, point your feet out about 45 degrees, keep your neck in a neutral position with your eyes pointed down, shove your knees out and drop the hips a little below parallel. After you feel comfortable with the bodyweight squat you can add a dumbbell or barbell to the movement. I highly recommend finding an experienced strength training coach before you start doing complex barbell lifts.
The deadlift: When doing the deadlift, your goal build up strength in the posterior chain of muscles. These are the muscles that run up and down the back or posterior part of the body. When you set up the bar for the deadlift you will want to step up to the bar without moving the bar, bring your feet under the bar about hip width apart, your feet will be pointed out about 10 degrees, make sure your ankles are about 1 inch from the bar so when you bend the knees your shin will touch the bar, once your shin touches the bar you’re ready to lift the weight. The deadlift is a complex movement that requires a coach to learn proper form. The goal is to lift from the hips because that is the fulcrum in the lever used to lift the weight off the ground.
The bench press: The bench press is the least important exercise for runners to do in the off season but still has some merit. When doing, the bench press you will need a spotter, a bench, a rack and a barbell. The movement is simple all you need to do is take the bar off the rack, keep the elbows at 45 degrees, move the bar over the midline of the chest, lower the bar to the chest, press the feet through the floor and press the weight back up. When you finish, the bench press you will allow the spotter to grab the bar and pull it back to the hooks on the rack. If you don’t want to do a bench press the push up will serve just fine.
The overhead press: The shoulder press is an exercise that is important for runners because it works the full kinetic chain. Having a strong shoulder press will help you at the end of the race when you feel like you want to slump over which can harm your running form. Doing the shoulder press is simple you, you will require a barbell and a rack. First set the barbell a little lower than neck height, take the bar off the rack, engage the glutes bringing the hips forward, the chest should be pointing up, lift the bar over your head while straightening up the body, lower the bar back to the chest or right under the neck and repeat. The feet will be hip width apart just like the squat.
Weight gain is a good thing when in offseason. I always put on at least 10-15 pounds of fat and muscle while I’m not training for a race. This will give you weight to lose when your base build for the next race. If you fail to gain weight you will remain in a catabolic state. When you’re in the offseason your body should be in an anabolic state which happens when you provide stimulus for the body to grow. Make sure not to gain too much weight because this will leave you sluggish when you get back to race training.
How long should your offseason last?
If you like doing two marathons a year your offseason should last about 2 months after each marathon. I like doing 1 marathon a year so my offseason will last about 6 months. My marathon program will be about 6 months long with base building in the first 2 months of marathon training.
Should you run long distance during an offseason?
People ask me if they should run a long-distance race during the offseason. I say sure go for it but I would keep the distance at a half marathon or under. When you run a race in the offseason you may not hit a personal record but don’t let that discourage you. You’re not supposed to be doing long distance training now so a lack of performance is expected.
If you need any help with your offseason program reach out to us at www.onthegofitnesspro.com