It can be incredibly tempting to put your running trainers into hibernation during the off-season, and rather than continue to train, instead just spend the weeks relaxing on the sofa. Unfortunately, becoming a couch potato and avoiding working out will result in you losing nearly all of the fitness you built up during the previous months.
We highly recommend that you remain active throughout the non-race months in order to help you start your next training season feeling fitter, stronger and less likely to sustain an injury. Here we’ve provided some of our favourite methods of staying fit and making the most of the off-season.
Complete a Virtual Challenge
Your training during the off-season doesn’t have to be anywhere near as strenuous as your usual programme, but you’ll be in a much better position come the start of the season if you’ve regularly been exercising. The key is to set yourself a challenge over the course of 30 days or so, so that you’re motivated to get up and complete the task.
A virtual challenge, for example, is a perfect way of keeping the miles ticking over. You’re required to run a specified number of miles within a month, but can run them wherever and whenever you want. It prevents your running clothes from gathering dust, and helps to keep you in shape during the holiday season. Whenever you tackle some of the miles, be sure to make a note of them – the feeling of accomplishment will help keep you determined to continue and finish the challenge.
Vary Your Training
The off-season presents an ideal opportunity for you to try out different types of training. You won’t be running nearly as much as you usually do, so this frees up time for you to trial other forms of working out, such as cycling, swimming, strength & conditioning classes or yoga classes at your local gym.
Enter a Fun Race
Another idea is to take part in a more laid-back, fun race with a family relative or a friend. Competing against other competitive runners is stressful and brings a lot of pressure, so use this break to participate in more relaxed races. Don’t worry about your time, just enjoy the experience with your running buddy.
If you’re extra enthusiastic, consider entering a themed race where you have to wear a wacky costume! These types of races are particularly fun, and are great at allowing you to train without stressing too much about your individual goals or targets.
Run Without a Watch
It’s important to remember that you’re not in the middle of a vigorous training program, you’re in your downtime, so you shouldn’t be focusing on improving your time. Every now and again, leave your watch at home and just run without any tracking device. Enjoy running with no pressure, forgetting about both your time and the distance you cover.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Your diet is crucial during the off-season. You won’t be burning as many calories as you usually do, so your calorie intake should be relative to the levels of activity you carry out. It can be easy to over-indulge after the rigours of a full season, and of course a few treats are allowed, but you can’t afford to completely let yourself go. Putting on weight will put you at a disadvantage when you return to competing, so just be mindful and monitor your body composition.
Consuming good sources of protein from natural foods such as meat, fish and eggs will help your muscles and tendons to repair from any strains and aggravations, which is vital for preparing your body for a new season.
Hydration is also vital for staying healthy, fit and conditioned throughout your break. It’s impossible to continue to train without a satisfactory intake of water, and remember that you’re losing fluid through sweating, so you’ll need to replace this.
Regular Strength Training
Building muscle mass is often forgotten about in the regular training schedule of most runners, so it can be beneficial to dedicate time to it during the off-season. Try to complete few 20-minute sessions a week, working your lower body and core especially. It won’t just help with making your body appeared toned, but it will also help with your performance.
It can also be useful to train your upper body as it helps you to maintain a good, upright posture during your runs. This in turn can increase your endurance by improving your lung capacity and reduce oxygen requirement, allowing you to run faster while using the same amount of energy.
Training Challenges with Race at your Pace
If you’re looking to keep in shape during the off-season, then look no further than Race at your Pace. Every month we organise virtual challenges for people of all abilities to take part in, perfect for remaining active during the non-race season. Get in touch today to find out more, or sign-up today!
See more: Motivation Tips for Runners