Eventually every year the temperature starts to drop and those long summer nights, where you can run for hours after work, pass us by for another year. On the surface, it's easy to look at this as a bad thing for your running, but off season offers up a whole new host of benefits and challenges to take on.
While there are some great races going on throughout Autumn and Winter, for most of us the big events on our calendars are all in the Spring and Summer. However those races can seem a little too far away to really knuckle down for. So to help keep motivation high through the off season set yourself some smaller training goals to work towards. These should be small, measurable and achievable targets that will help you run faster or further next year. For example my focus for the off season is to get faster, much faster so my goal is to knock 15 seconds off my 5k time by April 1st.
This is the point where most running blogs would typically joke about 'dreadmills' and then advise you to get the majority of your midweek runs on a treadmill, leaving you one long weekend run outdoors. That certainly is one option, but it's not the only or in my opinion the best way.
We race in all weathers and so it only makes sense that we train in all weathers too. Dress for the weather and the cold/wet isn’t so bad. Get a good headtorch and some hi vis accessories so that people can see you and get out there!
Nothing beats running on a quiet road watching the sunrise while the rest of the world sleeps.
Once the race season is fully underway there is no time to do much more than keep fit and recover. Leaving you no time or energy to work on your weaknesses or those nagging injuries. The off season however is the perfect opportunity to do just that and attack your weak points. Whether that means getting fitter, stronger, faster or just taking some time to build up that injured hamstring now is the time. Identify what's holding you back and create a plan to fix it.
The hibernation effect is real folks, as the nights get dark and the days get colder we all get the urge to find the nearest roaring fire, get cosy and eat ourselves silly. Something made a lot easier by the fact that all the best foods seem to come out at this time of year.
You don't have to abstain from all the seasonal delicacies but just be smart about it, that whole chocolate orange is not a pre dinner snack.
Running is awesome we all know that. But there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Take a weekend off every now and then and try out a few new activities, cycling, slack lining and bouldering are a great place to start. See what you can learn, while giving your joints and head a rest from the endless repetition of pounding the pavements/trails.
Last but not last, take recovery seriously. Run easy and recover hard. Foam roll, mobilise and sleep with the same dedication and intensity that you normally put into your runs. Your body will thank you come Spring.