Organizing your Running Off-Season

Organizing your Running Off-Season

It’s the holiday season here on the East coast, the days are getting shorter, and the weather is getting chillier!  As we transition into winter, this is my favorite season to unwind and take a break from running and training as intensely. With so much focus going into training for big races this past fall, it’s refreshing to have some downtime. That being said, it’s hard for us Type A runners to sit still for very long. After eight years spent training and racing at a fairly intense level, I’ve found that that organizing your running off-season is just as important as the in-season training.

And since organize is the Wednesday Word over at Deb Runs today, I am thrilled to share the details on how I am organizing my running off-season this winter.  I am linking this post up with Annmarie at The Fit Foodie Mama, Nicole at Fitful Focus, Michelle at Fruition Fitness, and Jen from Pretty Little Grub for Wild Workout Wednesday, as well as Susie at Suzlyfe, Rachel of Running on Happy, Debbie of Coach Debbie Runs, and Lora of Crazy Running Girl for the Running Coaches Corner.

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When Do Runners Schedule their Off-Season?

Well- this is a loaded question and tends to be a common question for most distance runners.  And the quick answer is that each runners’ off-season will vary on how much mileage is being logged, the number of races in the season, and the intensity of the training.  The timing of my off-season depends on the timing of my last race of the year.  I usually try to run the Philadelphia Marathon each year, which tends to fall on the Sunday before Thanksgiving most years. So my off-season usually begins in late November-early December.  This year, my off-season officially started the week after Thanksgiving and looks something similar to this below:

2 Weeks of Complete Rest

Not a ton of running.  No real cardio.  I usually go on brisk walks, do yoga, and some strength training at home or in the gym. Although this year – I ran 10 miles for our Thanksgiving turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day, which was 4 days post-marathon.   While that 10 miler was not the best idea for my hip flexors, feet, and hamstrings, I did feel pretty refreshed after 2 weeks post-marathon with minimal running.

6 Weeks of Unstructured Runs

I enjoy some light running and doing some structured cardio with weights during the next 6 weeks or so after a big race, but the workouts are lighter, easier, and completely unplanned/unstructured. Easy runs are at a 10 or more average pace and I typically run without my garmin or watch these weeks.  There is no purpose or goal of the workouts – I go out when I want and I stop when I want. The purpose of this phase is to just keep my body moving and fitness level stable.

During this time I aim for about 4-5 hours of activity a week (about 30% of my normal training volume). It’s during this time that I’ll also plan out my races for next year.  I look over my racing schedule from the precious year to analyze what worked and what did not work.

Organizing your Running Off-Season

8 Weeks of Prep

The goal of my Prep  is to get back into the swing of my runs. I get back on the road and on the trails with my runs and try to just have fun.  These are the weeks where I aim to have a bit more structure to my run and strength workouts. I’ll start to throw in some speed work here and there.

I also add in some cross-training (spinning, yoga, circuit training) to help me aim for 6-8 hours a week of activity (about 50% of my normal training volume) without getting focused on marathon based workouts too early.

Full on spring marathon training starts towards the end of January for me!

Organizing Running Off-Season

Regardless of when your last significant race was, you can follow a similar schedule. If your last big race was a big distance event, such as a marathon or ultra, hopefully you took 2 – 3 weeks to just relax and chill. As you jump into your unstructured runs and prep time, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What races do I want to compete in for 2017?
  2. When do I want to accomplish these races?
  3. What do I need to do in my training to get there?

Take the answers to these questions and work backward to help build out your training plan. Spending time this last month of 2016 will not only help you reach your goals, it’ll more than likely help you stay motivated and focused during the winter months!  Happy training!


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lboldz@gmail.com December 7, 2016

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26 Comments

kimberly g December 7, 201610 months ago

I was forced into a running off season due to an injury, but i have been enjoying the rest. I’ve been using this time to think about my goals for 2017 and how to best achieve them.

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lboldz@gmail.com December 8, 201610 months ago

Kimberly- I am sorry to hear about the injury and hope you are getting some much needed rest!

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Jen @ Pretty Little Grub December 7, 201610 months ago

My off season this year wasn’t so organized. It was just me going to all the fitness classes that I never have a chance to while i’m training. it was fun!

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lboldz@gmail.com December 8, 201610 months ago

Jen- I hear you on that! I am in that phase of taking fun classes here and there that I normally would not have time for during marathon training!

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Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner December 7, 201610 months ago

Well you are much more organized than i am! I wrote a little about this today too

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lboldz@gmail.com December 8, 201610 months ago

Ha Deb we were def on the same wavelength today!

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Annmarie December 7, 201610 months ago

I’m getting into my off season as well. GOing to take a few weeks off before half marathon training begins!

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lboldz@gmail.com December 8, 201610 months ago

How fun Annmarie! Enjoy!

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Sarah @ BucketListTummy December 7, 201610 months ago

I don’t know if I have a structured off season, but when I’m not training for a race, I’ll focus alot more on yoga and strength training. And probably drink a little more wine 🙂

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lboldz@gmail.com December 8, 201610 months ago

Sarah sounds like a great plan to me– enjoy!

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Nicole @ Fitful Focus December 7, 201610 months ago

I took a full week off after the NYC Marathon and now i’m in the unstructured run phase. Hoping to get back to more of a routine in the next week or 2 :).

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lboldz@gmail.com December 8, 201610 months ago

Congrats on your marathon Nicole!! How fun!

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Michelle @ Fruition Fitness December 8, 201610 months ago

Thats a nice guide to follow! I’ll do something like that with a 6 week cross fit challenge thrown in!

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lboldz@gmail.com December 8, 201610 months ago

Michelle- I am totally thinking about signing up for cross fit during my off-season!

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Lacey@fairytalesandfitness December 8, 201610 months ago

I do not fee like i ever follow a strict training program while training for a race, so when I am done with a race, I do not take a break and usually just run based on how I feel.

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lboldz@gmail.com December 8, 201610 months ago

I used to be like that too– And I am sure there will be some last min half marathons thrown into my training for sure!

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Kimberly Hatting December 8, 201610 months ago

It sounds like we’re on the same wave length 😉 I’ve had almost three weeks of “recovery” from my marathon, and although I have been cautiously streaking (1-milers), I am going stir crazy LOL

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lboldz@gmail.com December 10, 201610 months ago

Totally Kimberly! And I give you alot of credit running every day! That must be tough!

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Susie @ SuzLyfe December 8, 201610 months ago

I feel like there should be a song for this akin to the 12 days of christmas. That would be Hilarious. Five… yo-ga sesh-ions! Lol

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lboldz@gmail.com December 10, 201610 months ago

Lol Susie! That would be fabulous!

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Janelle @ Run With No Regrets December 9, 201610 months ago

Very cool to see how you structure your off-season…I have started getting back into fitness classes but I’m still not running as frequently, which i think my body is grateful for!

I already have a few races planned for spring, just looking to fit something good for April!

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lboldz@gmail.com December 10, 201610 months ago

Janelle- I hear you with the running! I hope to be back into a more formal training schedule in Jan. Coastal Del Running Festival in Dewey Beach, Del has a great half and full race and it’s in April! Do it!

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Debbie @ Deb Runs December 14, 201610 months ago

Taking time off from running when I was in my forties was nearly impossible for me. I just loved running so much that I had a hard time resting. I’d run again on Thursday after my Sunday marathons. I’ve since learned to listen to my body a little bit better and it pays!

Thank you for linking up! It’s much appreciated even if I’m a week late in commenting! 🙂

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lboldz@gmail.com December 28, 20169 months ago

That makes me feel better about feeling guilty about things Deb! Love your link ups!

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Runwright December 14, 201610 months ago

Great Post. These days, I just try to fit in a run when it’s not too cold. I want to keep up and even improve my fitness during the winter months but SOMETIMES it’s tough. Having a training plan DEFINITELY helps push me out the door at least a couple times per week.
http://runwright.net

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lboldz@gmail.com December 28, 20169 months ago

so true! Having a training plan and a running group or running buddy def keep me accountable!!

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