I might be in the minority but I don’t think it’s necessary or smart to race a marathon or half marathon every weekend. I don’t think it’s smart to run a marathon every month. Honestly, I don’t even think it’s smart to run more 2 maybe 3 at the most annually. Yet in the world that is the internet, I feel in the minority saying that. When I talk to a lot of my friends outside of blogging, not many run more then 2 marathons annually. It could be my set of friends but looking briefly at elite runners, not many run more than 2 marathons yearly. The fact is your body is not able to peak at multiple marathons each year.
When I finished New York the first question any one asked me was “what marathon are you signing up for next?”. Is it Boston? (no) Will I immediately be signing up for another full? No. When is my next race? After my lazy season.
The off season is a very critical part of running or any workout plan. In the blogging world, I find myself questioning how so many people run multiple marathons a year with no off season. For me, my off season normally comes from injury. To be honest with myself I tend to get injured about once per year. Regardless you need a few weeks yearly of no running, as well as low mileage months. Your body won’t get any better if it’s constantly being torn down. If I logged 300 mile months every month (that is my personal peak) then I would be torn down, tired and injured.
Because I’m not “intense” about my paces or exact mileage and have learned that recovery is key I am often mistaken as a casual runner or uncaring about how I do. That is far from the case and if you chat with me you know my passion lies in running. I’ve learned in order to keep injury free I can’t worry about pace, exact mileage or set an exact goal weekly. I’ve also learned my body needs rest. I have crave those days where workouts or runs aren’t happening. I crave days (or in this case weeks) or just recovering. After 6 months of hard pounding on my legs my body needs this aspect as much as it needs high mileage to reach my running goals.
This particular off season was roughly 3 weeks plus the additional easy mileage weeks. I can’t make any promises but I don’t plan to run high mileage weeks until early next year. I have embraced the off season and down time whole heartedly. Though I didn’t eat the amount I would running 70 mile weeks, I didn’t limit myself or deny myself calories because I was resting. I’m obviously not burning anywhere near the amount of calories I was running. While I don’t go and eat ice cream every night, if I want ice cream a particular night I don’t really care whether I rested or not. My approach led to gaining a few pounds during this time. (no it’s not muscle, or water weight…I gained a few fat pounds). I remember reading somewhere that Ryan Hall allows himself to gain roughly 10 pounds before he resumes training after a hard marathon. That was his way of knowing his body was ready.
You know what? I’m not really that concerned. I know that when I start to run again and begin another serious training cycle, I’ll be back to an optimal weight (I like to think is 130 since that is what I’ve been racing at) and be fine.
I’ve read several articles about resting after marathons or having an off season but this is one of my favorites. Plus if you immediately begin training after a hard race you are setting yourself up for an injury. It doesn’t matter if it was your first 5k, 10k or marathon.
So while I love running and running high mileage I also love having the ability to do that and I know I wouldn’t if I didn’t take this down time.
Questions for you:
How much down time yearly do you have?
What do you do in your “off season”?
For me I’ve taken solid rest and done light elliptical. Nothing strenuous…