The Lazy Season

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…


  1. On a normal year where I’m not pregnant, I race a lot of short races but only 2 marathons (spring & fall) and take 2 weeks completely off (one week after each marathon) plus a few months of easy running with no workouts. During my weeks off I do nothing! Nothing at all! I like a full recovery that gets me itching to exercise again.

    I gain weight too and take the same “who cares” attitude as you… I know I’ll be back to racing weight when I’m racing again!

  2. I do not think you are in the minority in these thoughts. You may feel like that in the blog world, but in the running world, I bet most would agree that running multiple hard races back to back is not best for the body. I’m no expert by any means but I know it’s not right for me. You can definitely participate in multiple races back to back- just don’t expect to do well in them, maybe just treat them as workouts (especially short and small races).

    But, it’s not just bloggers. I think after the “high” of a marathon some people just get the fever and sign up for a lot of things. A lot of people I trained with ran a 5K pretty hard a week after their full marathon, one guy even ran a half marathon 2 weeks later. A 5K is only a little more than 3 miles and running 3 miles a week after a marathon is fine, but running and the stress of a race are different. Most races are held every year… you may want to do that marathon that’s a month after your marathon, but you could always just shoot for it next year.

    1. Yeah We all have own opinions I guess. I just cannot personally not resting the week after the marathon. Why run right after or race the next week?

  3. I think that most people that do a bunch of marathons in a year aren’t racing them. They are just completing them. Yeah, there’s still wear and tear but not as much as people that try their best on race day. But it’s still a recipe for injuries like you said.

    I take about 4-6 weeks off a year. And I do just about nothing. Just taking it easy and wait for when my body and mind is ready to get back to training.

  4. Definitely agree with you on this. Pittsburgh is six weeks after Shamrock for me, and I know I’ll just be completing it, which I think will be really good for me mentally. I’m still trying to help myself learn that I don’t have to race every race I run and can just do some or most for fun if that’s what I want, so that’s my goal for Pittsburgh. I take every Monday off as a total rest day, and it usually ends up being one of the best of the week, and I take 3-5 weeks off throughout the year as full rest weeks, which I LOVE. I took a week and a half off in October, and it was one of my favorite from the fall. It got me ready/wanting to run again, which is always a good sign for me

  5. I’ve noticed that about the blog world too. It seems like the “thing” to do to try and run as many races as possible in a short amount of time. It’s so easy to get caught up in it, it seems like a competition, I feel like. I know my legs can’t work that way, especially after racing every week last year for track/xc. I think taking that period of rest is important, mentally and physically. I don’t really have a “race season” anymore but i know my mileage will be lower in January when I’m home so I don’t burn myself out for all of the spring races I signed up for.

  6. It’s crazy to me that some people run five or six marathons within a few months, but I guess it works for them because they’re not going out and racing hard. Do you think using them as long runs or “easy” runs would make it feasible to finish that many marathons per year and not get injured?

    1. I think running marathons not at your own personal potential could allow you to run multiple. If that is your scene great, I have no room to judge.

      1. Agreed. But I think you’re right — it’s pretty unrealistic to race a bunch at full effort per year. Unless you wear those Oiselle laces wings. Then you can do anything! 😉

  7. I have to admit that your approach to running and training is probably one of my favourites from the blog world — I’ve definitely noticed that overzealous, run ALL the races mentality, and I can’t help but wonder… don’t those people ever get tired? Or crave just doing nothing? Maybe I’m lazy, but it’s honestly hard for me to imagine training that much… Glad to see you’re enjoying your ‘lazy season.’

  8. I think the people you see doing half marathons every weekend aren’t racing most of them. You just can’t. Sure, you can go out and jog 13.1 miles every weekend, but you can’t RACE or perform optimally. For some people, just getting out there in the race atmosphere every week is fun; good for them. I’d rather have a few kickass races myself.

  9. Love this. I can’t imagine running halfs or full marathons 10x a year. Maybe I’m in the minority but it doesn’t seem logical to do so unless you’re more of a hobby jogger who just wants to run?

    …. Flame away for me saying that

  10. So refreshing to hear a great runner address this. I only have one marathon I ever want to do, NYC, and will be doing it next year. I’m super slow and don’t mind at all- running has helped me maintain my 110 pounds weight loss and it makes me happy! I just dont know how some peoples bodies can handle 26.2 every weekend. Some of them don’t think thats enough.. theyll add on extra miles before the marathon?! I mean good for you if you can handle that! The race atmosphere is my favorite thing like ever, so I love doing a lot of races since I don’t train for time (right now anyways). I did 3 back to back half marathons 3 weekends in a row and ended up PRing the last one, but the days in between the races were all rest except for 2 short shake out run/walks. But afterwards? My body has been nothing but exhausted for the entire month following not to mention my mind. I’m just now finding my motivation again, 5 weeks post race mania. Definitely put on a few pounds but it was great and so necessary to me to just chill out for a bit!

    1. Wow 110 pounds is incredible. First congrats to you. I cannot even fathom.

      The post race ease and enjoyment could be my favorite part of the training cycle. Why push yourself now when you are preparing for a new training cycle. I (personally) think it leads to faster burnout!

  11. The fact that you are so in tune with what your body wants AND needs is really admirable. Many people push through it (myself included) & end up losing their passion. So F the haters and keep listening to your body. And enjoy the ice cream whenever the hell you want it =)

  12. Thank you. I thought that there was something wrong with me after I finished my first marathon and wasn’t ready to run a second a few weeks later. I have no idea how some of the other bloggers do it weekly without becoming injured. My husband even made the comment to me that it seemed to be taking me longer to recover than my 20+ milers did (and I did several). I assume that it is because I ran much harder during the marathon than during my long runs and it was also at the end of a long training cycle.

    1. No thank you! I thought there something wrong with me (well something in regards to this topic ha ha). I hope you rest and recover and find something else to enjoy and train for! 🙂

  13. I’m one of those who runs a lot of marathons (15 this year), and the other commenters have it exactly right – I simply don’t race most of them. I pick 2 or 3 goal marathons or half marathons a year, and the rest are training runs for me. I honestly just enjoy the marathon distance and seeing a new city, chatting with my friends, and picking up a cool medal. I have seen a lot of improvement in my times and my running, but I’m sure I would see even more if I rested more. I think it’s all about why you run and what you’re looking to get out of running, but this has really made me think about what my readers must think when they read about all my races. I’m definitely going to be addressing this in a future post. Thanks!

    1. I was actually reading your blog the other day (like I said on twitter) and i think it’s incredible your marathon journey.

      You have a goal of running in each state, country and you have really gone with it.

      I think runners that just run marathons for no reason other then to finish yet another or believe each marathon is going to be a Pr using that method is a completely different story.

  14. I’ve learned the difference between running just to complete a race and actually RACING a race. I have run a lot of races just because I wanted to, but this fall it all hit me, I was not able to pace what I wanted and I am just DONE. After NYCM I was supposed to run another marathon in Palm Beach in a couple weeks. My body let me know though that it was not happening. I am going to run the half, because well the vaca is paid for and I want to since my sister is running the full but I am barely running at the moment; and taking a full real running break after. For optimal performance rest is ideal. I want to next year perform to my best not just run a bunch of races.
    Which I totally agree – in the blog world it seems like race after race after race is the thing to do.
    For once I have not planned out all my next races yet!

  15. I think this is smart. I mean I am in the same boat. nothing coming up till spring so i kind of am just building my base and staying smart with training.

  16. It’s my lazy season too, it’s called winter! I just don’t get that really need to run hard when I can’t run outside. Yes I do do the treadmill, but I’ve been going just long enough to catch one episode of whatever series I am watching.

  17. Way to make me feel like an ass for doing 3 marathons this year. Okkkk kidding.

    As I have said to you many times lately- I am SOOO excited for a few weeks of downtime after CIM. I plan on cross training, but cutting back on running quite a bit. No pressure to get my butt out of bed for a long run, unless I so choose.

  18. I’m awful about actually thanking “off” time. I take a rest day or two a week but they aren’t real rest days. I am still going wide open on those days — I just don’t go to my gym. This week, I’m planning on some off time. My body is aching every single day. I am pretty sure that is its way of telling me to slow my roll.

  19. I totally agree…I don’t feel that running a half or full marathon every weekend is good for your body – sure I LOVE racing, but I love my body more and want to do what’s good for it. And yeah, I feel that in the running blogger community there is pressure to be racing ALL the time, but that doesn’t work for some people.

    I’m taking it easy/lazy throughout the wintery months – I only have some fun 10Ks and 10 milers on the schedule. I won’t be training hard or racing hard until the spring. I do a lot more stationary cycling in my “off season” and strength.

  20. Thanks for writing this! I don’t typically run a ton of races each year, I like to just focus on one or two. But this year, after my fall marathon, I almost let myself get swept up in running another marathon three weeks later. I think it would have been a huge mistake.

    I’m like you, I often have an injury each year that causes an unwanted and unplanned lazy season.

    1. Though I’m not excited someone can relate to me in being injured every year, I’m glad you chose to rest and recover. You’ll get a marathon PR again!

      What marathon did you just complete?

      1. Richmond, just a little more than a week ago. I kept thinking I could run Rehoboth on the 7th, but my body doesn’t feel up to it. As much as I’m sure I could push myself to do it, I know I’d be in dangerous territory.

  21. I just told you yesterday how much I like your outlook on running! And I think you’re an amazing runner! I think a lot of high miles will eventually wear a body down. I just don’t know if the human body is really meant to run that many miles for life. Taking those off times will only make you faster in the long run. You can’t run yourself into the ground and tear up all your muscles. Recovery is key! I hate when I read blogs and it’s like the end of the world if a person misses a run or workout! One day isn’t the end of the world and there is more to life than exercise (or any one single thing!).

  22. Thank you for this. I literally just wrote this morning about my running burnout and how I have tried to be a year round racer and now am realizing that was not smart. There are so many runners out there that are racing every weekend. I just don’t know how they do it! Hopefully they won’t crash and burn like I did, and I was only doing a race a month!

  23. Thank you for this! Man, we are all on the same page right now. My blog today was about how “blah” I feel and seriously- you see the other bloggers out there running a marathon a week and never batting an eye which makes me question my motivation (just kidding on that- I tend to think I’m just more sane ;-)) I don’t have another Marathon until April and I’m A-ok with that, and really should try to enjoy and embrace the down time that I have instead of beating myself up over (what only *I* see) as a complete lack of motivation!!!
    This was exactly what I needed to read right this moment. 🙂

  24. Lazy is something I’m good at! I remember Lauren Fleshman saying once that she always takes a big break with little/no running so her body can completely recover. She is fast so I’m going to follow her advice

  25. I love lazy seasons!! I usually think of them in terms of school… I have one in December and one in the summer. Love em!

  26. People who can run 12 half-marathons in 12 months blow my mind. Props to them for getting out there and doing work, but my body wouldn’t be able to handle all that pounding without a break. That being said, though, there’s a difference between doing a race and racing a race.

  27. What a timely post m’lady… not with what I am currently doing, as of course I’m still recovering and not really running much at all, but more with my recent thoughts on a similar matter. I do want to post about it soon, if I ever get out of my own way to do so, about what is considered “Normal” according to bloggers and then everyone else out there. My thinking is not anything new or drastic but it does echo what you are saying.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this necessary “season.” It’s something you really don’t see talked about in these parts as much as it NEEDS to be. I also don’t understand how so many do marathons/halfs every other weekend or several during a season. How are they still injury free and for that matter, continue to feel energized and perform well?! No idea. But then our bodies are really great at staying strong but of course everyone has a breaking point. Woahh rambling here, clearly you got me thinking.. and ranting a bit

    1. I think the thing is bloggers are more invested in fitness and health (maybe in some cases too much so) so that the thought process is different then most of the rest of society.

  28. I totally agree with your philosophy and have been following it for the past few years. Not only is it hard physically to train year-round, but mentally as well. It’s gotten cold here over the last two days and I cannot for the life of me force myself to get out there. But I’m not sweating it. Marathon training hard work and you have the best approach to it! Enjoy this freedom and time off!

  29. I wonder the same thing when I read some blogs. Like, why are you running a marathon this week and in two weeks? And why are you running one every month? How are you not injured and how do you come up with the money? Because the only way you’re running a marathon every month or even every other, well you have to travel for all but one or two. I mean, maybe I’d do it once if it were something like the Goofy or Dumbo or whatever challenge is in Disney (though I don’t have much interest in doing Disney). Anyways… I digress.

    Rest is so crucial. I like my rest even if I beat myself up over taking a day here and there. Taking my spin certification this past weekend only confirmed how much rest we really need… one or two days per week of really easy activity (50-65% MHR) or just a total rest day. This also leads into my anger about running streaks… take a day off. PLEASE.

  30. I relate to this post. There are so many races I always want to sign up for, but I am trying to stay focussed on doing one half in March (over a year after my first one- DEPRESSING!) and getting a time I will be proud of. I am holding myself over until then by planning on running a 15k in either January or February, and I also run a bunch of 5ks because I feel like I easily recover from a three mile race, and I love 5ks.

  31. Right on! I stick with 2 and occasionally 3 fulls a year myself, and then some years I’ve only run 1 full. wholeheartedly agree with you on the importance of taking time off. Not only for your body’s sake, but for your mental sanity and simply to re-engage with the non-running world! I generally take the summer mostly off, or at least from say late April to June/July, depending on if I have set my eyes on a fall race. Training in Houston during the summer is pretty rough, so that is the best time to take off.

    Gotta rejuvenate to stay strong….and cross training can be so beneficial. I like to do short distance triathlons during marathon off-season, or just casually bike around to stay active Oh…..and sleep in!!!! Sleeping in is the best part.

  32. I think everyone deserves a lazy season. I do feel the “blogging world” makes it seem that you have to race xyz, and do it quickly, while also making new recipes and home cook meals everyday haha

  33. Love this approach, couldn’t agree more. After running my first marathon and trying to race a 5K the week after, it was a huge wakeup call about how important it is to just take some time off. I did not do myself any favors!

  34. I know a couple of people that run a full or half marathon almost every weekend, and do not get injured. They seem to be running for quantity, not quality, and run them 1:30+ per mile slower than their PR’s. I’ve never tried that for an official race, which could be why I get injured. :l

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