by Mat Nark
With the end of every season comes the finality of another chapter in our personal book of running. A time to reflect on the season that has passed and to evaluate our progress. Time to kick back a bit, relax, regenerate, and reward ourselves on another season, well done. What do we do with ourselves now that we have so much free time on our hands? Although we know this break is essential to our long term success it can still be a tough adjustment for many. Here are some examples of how some of our folks make the most of their down time and deal with the in-between season blues.
Michael Lombardi: "Hitting the weights extra hard during the in between season always cures the blues for me!"
Christine Carbonetti: I look forward to the in between because I use that time to focus on cross training and getting stronger in the weight room. There does come a point, however, where I’m ready and excited to jump back into training. I think having that break allows for us to get recharged and ready for what's to come.
Alyssa Risko: "In the off season I welcome the needed rest but not the little aches and pains that come with the lack of movement/mileage!"
Erin Wrightson: "In the off season, I drink more wine and eat more pizza & tacos!"
As we look back at the season it's important to ask ourselves some important questions. Did we reach the goals that we had set for ourselves? Were our goals and plan something that worked well with the rest of our lives and could be repeated going forward? How can we be more efficient and do it better while still enjoying the process? After all, we want to be sure that the journey is as enjoyable as possible and is sustainable over time. Setting sensible goals that fit our lifestyle will put us in the best possible position for success. We are not professional athletes and therefore we will have many priorities that rank above and beyond that of our running. Take advantage of the free and get caught up on everything.
Jaclynn Stankus: "The time in between my marathons where my body is recovering helps me to reset myself physically and mentally. It lets me focus on other areas of my life and take care of myself in ways that I may neglect during hard training. I begin the new season with a new attitude and a clear head."
Emily Camenga: "In between seasons, I really miss the focus and motivation that comes with following a specific training plan. In planning each day with specific intent and purpose, all other areas of my life are better organized. When the methodical training season comes to an abrupt end, it's hard not to feel a little lost and disconnected."
Danielle Turk-Bly: "Running is one of the few luxuries that we are given that bridges the agony of pushing past what is comfortable and the reward of doing something you didn't think possible. The off season can be daunting, because you know you are in the pursuit of more, but the immediate task of holding back leaves you craving the pain and the accomplishment it brings when you can push past it."
The in-between seasons break is a great time to catch up on things that may have been neglected while we were in serious season training. It's time to prioritize different aspects of our life and restore some life balance. Not only will this please our family and friends but it will do wonders for our own body and mind. Keeping the peace in our households is always a must if we are going to be able to sustain this pursuit towards our goals over and over.
As we runners we have the tendency to think that more is always better and that rest periods will only lose us fitness. The part about losing fitness is correct, while more is definitely not always better. I frequently have new athletes to our program that don't understand the importance of this lower volume training period and letting go of some fitness. We are so consumed with the daily runs and the desire to always be improving that it's tough to embrace the down times. Make the most of the down time by recovering your body and tending to the rest of your lives and get back to the start line better than ever.
Embrace the in-between seasons and make them as productive as possible. There is no reason for sadness or the post season blues. Consistent improvement in your running is not a linear journey and there will be many ups and downs in training, racing as in life. Navigate your way through the peaks and valleys with a disciplined approach and reap the rewards of another great chapter in your personal book of running.
Stronger, Faster, Further
Mat Nark: McMillan Certified Run Coach, Kettlebell Expert,
Over 20,000 hrs. of experience