Making the most of the running off-season with strength training
Similar to other athletes, runners have an off-season, which is generally the period between completing your goal race and starting to train for your next big race. For many runners, this happens in the late fall/early winter (Nov-Jan), but it varies depending on the date of your spring race.
The off-season is an important time to recharge both physically and mentally from a long training season. Your mileage is lower and you have more time to do the “little things” that may have decreased or stopped during your heavy mileage weeks. Here are some things to keep in mind for the off-season to ensure you are ready to jump back into training for that next race:
1) Keep running: Depending on what you were training for and your peak mileage, base mileage will vary, but I usually aim for maintaining an average of 15-20 miles/week, which is a less than half of my peak mileage for marathon training. I like to do a few shorter runs during the week (3-5 miles) and a slightly longer run (6-8) on the weekend to stay in a similar pattern as training, but keep the miles easy and don’t put any pressure on yourself to hit a certain mileage. If you want to occasionally add in a speed workout to get the legs moving, that’s cool, but don’t do speed every week like when you’re training. Your mind needs a break just as much as your body.
2) Do other workouts that you love: That could mean spin, barre, yoga, Orangetheory, HIIT classes…really anything. This is the time to mix it up and give your mind and body a break from lots of running. Make sure you still have at least one rest day/week, though, and if you need more, take them!
3) Add in strength training: Strength is an important element of training that is often overlooked, especially with newer runners, or is not prioritized when mileage increases when training for a race. Strength training is a key component to injury prevention, and it will also help increase your speed, power, and endurance. The stronger you are, the longer it takes for muscles to fatigue when you’re running. The off season is a great time to add this in or restart your strength routine.
December Strength Challenge:
Not sure where to start or want support in kickstarting a strength routine? I am hosting a free strength challenge in the month of December that will give you guidance and support with adding strength into your routine on a regular basis.
- It’s completely free!
- The challenge is 4 weeks long and will go from Monday, Dec 3 – Sunday, Dec 30
- You’ll receive an email at the beginning of each week with 2 strength videos – a shorter one (10-15 min routine) and a longer one (25-30 min routine). The exercises are chosen with runners in mind.
- The challenge will be to complete the shorter video 4x/week and the longer video 2x/week.
- Minimal equipment is needed and you can do the workouts from anywhere
- Prizes will be involved and announced soon! Be sure to follow @tw_trainingwellness on IG
- Sign up here – you must sign up by Saturday, December 1st
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Coach Tip Tuesday ➡️ Get outside your comfort zone and try something new…a class you’ve never attended, a new group run, a crazy relay race…the possibilities are endless . . . I’ve talked about the off-season before, but it’s worth emphasizing – this is when you physically and MENTALLY recharge. Yeah, keep some base mileage – that’s important so you don’t start from scratch later. But if you need an extra rest day, take it (that goes anytime really)…go to that class that you’ve been wanting to check out but couldn’t fit it in your training plan…do that beer relay with friends… I remember taking my first boxing class last year and loving it – what a great way to release stress and also get in an awesome workout Is it something I will do every week? No – but I’ll definitely go when I can because I enjoy it. If I had never tried it out in my off-season I wouldn’t know this! . . . And speaking of new things, have you signed up for the December Strength Challenge? It’s new, it’s free, and it will help you get stronger And it can be done from the comfort of your own home (or gym or outside…) Link in my bio to sign up! It starts next Monday, the 3rd! . . . #twtraining #twstrengthchallenge #offseason
Bottom line: make sure you have an off season – for some it may be 4 weeks, some it may be 8-10 weeks, depending on your goal spring race. The mental refresh is just as important as the physical refresh – you can’t always be going hard, and you want to save those efforts for when you’re actually training for something. Doing easy miles shouldn’t take a lot of mental effort….but if they do, consider taking several weeks off of running period and sub it with something else. When that next training cycle comes around, you want to be excited about training again and having a successful off season will help you do just that!
Tammy Whyte is the owner and head running coach of TW Training and Wellness. She is also a certified personal trainer and emphasizes strength training in her training programs. Registration for group run coaching is now open for winter/spring races. All levels of runners are welcome! Learn more and sign up at www.twtrainingwellness.com.