What Should I Do Now? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
by Jimmy Williams, PT, DPT
Welcome to one of a runner’s most dreaded times, the offseason. The weather is cold, the races just finished and your training block for the spring races have yet to start. The question I frequently get in the clinic is, “What should I do now?”
Hopefully you’ve taken some time off from running since your fall race(s) to truly recover on both a physical & mental level. The first few weeks of the “offseason” should include gradually building back your weekly mileage. This may be running 30-45 minutes at a conversational pace starting at every other day & occasionally building up to 3-6 days per week depending on your goals & previous fitness levels. By starting off with easy mileage, you are setting yourself up to be ready for the start of your spring training cycle and reducing your risk of injury by allowing your body to adapt to easy loads first before adding faster paced workouts. Later on, as you get closer to the start of your training cycle, you can start getting more specific with your training by adding in some workouts.
Now is also the time to start transforming your weaknesses into becoming your strengths. This aspect can be very beneficial for going into the next race cycle. Think of it as fortifying the foundation of a house & every race you do as a hurricane (sorry I’m obviously from Florida). If your fall marathon was a big storm that shook your foundation, that’s okay because you can take this time to rebuild via strength training, mobility work & slowly building back your running. However, if you dive right back into intense training and don’t allow yourself to recover or work on those weaknesses, then the next time another hurricane hits, your foundation will most likely crumble (an injury). Give yourself the extra time you have running less mileage to address these deficits and if you are unsure of your specific deficits, head on over to your favorite physical therapists so we can take you through some functional assessments and help you make the most of your time.
Perhaps, try something different & new! With no races coming up, go try something that you wouldn’t normally do during a season. Personally, I am a big triathlete and look forward to getting back into the pool and on the bike to mix my training up a bit more. Another amazing winter activity is trail running! Running trails is a great way to get off your normal running routes & challenge your body with dynamic lateral movements that challenge muscles you normally don’t use while running. Try a cycling class, go rock climbing, do Pilates, or anything that gets you out of your comfort zone. Doing athletic activities outside of running can break up the monotony of year-round training and challenge your body in a way it normally isn’t exposed to. This is not only good for your physical health but can be a nice mental break and be fun!