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.
You should make strength a priority when in an off season.
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.
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 at this time so a lack of performance is expected.