The off-season is perfect for all of the above.
What is off-season and why is it needed
This is an important period in the training process, which lays the foundation for the next phase of training and competition.
The off-season is not a vacation or a vacation. The point here is not to participate in competitions and not engage in training aimed at preparing for them.
The typical off-season can be 4-8 weeks (or longer). This is the phase where you take a break from structured training plans, as you do when preparing for a marathon, for example.
Why do amateur runners need the offseason?
The lack of off-season is somewhat similar to lack of sleep: at first it seems as if it is imperceptible, then the accumulated fatigue will certainly make itself felt. You may not be aware of the consequences for the first few years, but continuing to train at a high level continuously will ultimately lead to decreased performance, mental burnout and unpleasant injuries.
Simply put, we need a break to come to our senses, rest, think about future plans and goals and recover from intense exertion, because training and racing place enormous demands on our body and mind.
The benefits of rest
You’ve probably heard that improving your fitness is achieved only during rest? This is true. Through a process called supercompensation, the body reacts to stress, such as a long run or hard tempo training, and adapts to the stress received.
The problem is that the stress-adaptation-progress system is not linear, you can’t keep getting better and better indefinitely. There comes a time when the body needs “real”, longer recovery, the opportunity to rest and consolidate all the achievements of previous workouts. Sometimes these periods occur against our will, for example, in the event of injury or illness.
What are the risks if you don’t rest? Physically, overtraining or injury. From a mental point of view, increased stress: when this happens, the risk of burnout increases.
How you rest is determined by your long-term goals, personality type, and motivation. Some people are happy to take a break and focus on other hobbies, but there are athletes who immediately start to get bored without a clear training plan.
How do I know how long I need a break?
- One and a half weeks
At the end of the competitive season, take a break for a week or one and a half. This is enough time for your body to make the necessary “repair” and maintain aerobic endurance at the same level.
- Every other day for two weeks
For athletes who don’t want to just sit on the couch and watch Netflix, there is another option – take a two-week rest and train only every other day for 20-30 minutes. This way you can still enjoy running, but with significantly less workload, allowing you to recover better.
- Longer break
If during the season you have been training with untreated injuries or have regularly experienced exhaustion, now is the time to listen to your body’s signals and finally give it a proper rest.
The stubborn escape from injury can last as long as everything collapses and the runner ends up in the emergency room. And overtraining, which can be called “underrecovery”, can have long-term consequences if not addressed in time.
Instead of setting a clear time frame for yourself to return to training, rest until you feel 100 percent ready. Your body and mind will be grateful to you.
To make your recovery more effective, slowly return to running training for 3-4 weeks after rest. During this period, avoid moderate, heavy, and long runs and stick to 30-60 minutes of relaxed jogging of light-effort workouts. Get enough sleep, eat well, and avoid stress if possible.
Unload your brain: leave your running watch at home, don’t focus on your pace, let your legs run as they feel comfortable.
If you’ve spent the season preparing for road starts, consider trail running. Staying in the woods has many benefits, including lowering cortisol (stress hormone) levels, according to research.
If you don’t feel like running at all, go for a walk instead of running along the trail. Take the whole family with you and enjoy the moment, because finally, on a day off, you do not need to run for a long time.
And about the physical form. A recession in the off-season is inevitable, but this should be treated as an indispensable part of the process. After proper rest, it will be much easier to make up for lost time than trying to progress in a state of accumulated fatigue and various microtraumas.
How to stay fit during the offseason
One of the most common reasons runners don’t take a vacation is because of fear of getting out of shape. A few weeks of inactivity will indeed lead to a slight deterioration in cardiovascular health, but this is usually compensated for by the gains achieved during recovery and a quick return to normal aerobic levels.
This is what you can do if you are tired of running, but you want to keep fit.
Running in water: Most similar to running in terms of biomechanics, running in water allows you to simulate the version on land without impacting your muscles and joints. Although your heart rate will be lower, the exercise will not seem as easy as you thought.
A ride on the bicycleCycling is an intense aerobic exercise that offers many of the same benefits as running.
Swimming: Although you will likely be limited to the pool, swimming is a great way to engage almost all of your large muscles with little to no stress on your joints and ligaments. Swimming is also beneficial for the cardiovascular system – during the process, the heart actively works to deliver oxygen to the muscle cells.
Elliptical trainer: Like all other activities listed above, the “ellipse” affects the cardiovascular system. Plus, it uses the same muscles it does when running.
Of course, it is not about aerobic exercise and endurance, but classes in the gym have their advantages – they strengthen muscles and make us stronger. The stronger the muscles, the longer and faster the athlete can run.
It is strength training that helps to cope with the weak points typical for runners – to pump muscles that are not used much when running, or to work out any other muscle group that is directly involved in the process – buttocks, calves, core muscles, etc. and for a long time they put off the power and distant boxes – maybe it’s time to return to them now?
Cross-country skiing: is the only activity that can compare to jogging when it comes to energy expenditure and calorie burn. Cross-country skiing gives the additional effect of intense loads on both the lower and upper body muscles.
Instead of an epilogue
And remember, the offseason is the foundation on which your future performances will be built. The more you invest in this process now, the better your results will be. Enjoy your holiday without remorse.