Thursday (for knowledge) Thursday: Off Season Tips for Runners

>> Thursday, November 13, 2014

About a month ago, I posted my off season plans for swim, bike, run, and strength work. (UPDATE: I have yet to start reaching for those over-the-top BIKE goals.)

So I thought it'd be a good time to share this article from It's the "Top-10 Offseason Tips For Runners" written by a 1:06 half-marathoner and 2:21 marathoner. Below are his 10 tips and most of what he has to say about each. Check out the original article for every single detail.

1. Answer, "Why Do I Run?"

While answers to this question may range from winning an Olympic medal to getting away from the hustle and bustle of your life, either way it is important to identify why you run.

2. Set Goals

I’m sure you have laid out your running goals in a clear and concise manner. Perhaps you have even hired a coach to put together the ultimate training program. But, have you set lifestyle goals? One of my favorite coaches of all-time once said, “Your actions must be in line with your goals.” If the training program requires 2 hours of your time per day and you only have 90 minutes, it is not the right program for you, no matter how sound the design is. Here are a few subtitles for your goal setting session:

- Beginning of the Season: (obtain fitness, have an open mind)
- Middle of the Season: (stay focused, revisit goals)
- End of the Season: (improve upon last year, personal records)
- Long-Term Aspirations: (career, family, personal)

This goal-setting session can be a good one to do with your loved ones so they understand your commitment.

3. Clean Up Your Diet

Hahahahahaha! Let's pause here. I'm not giving up my nightly nacho platter or turning over the secret stash of Ghirardelli squares in the cupboard. Sure, I've been TRYING to eat better over the years (and I HAVE made a lot of progress - ask my wife), but don't push it.

4. Educate Yourself

Never do a workout if your coach cannot explain the purpose of the workout. The explanation does not have to be complicated. For example, if your coach requires you to do a long run every Sunday and you ask “Why?” His or her response may simply be, “You need a big engine to run a marathon.” Good enough. Read a couple of running books so you can participate in the conversation with your coach.

This same point came up in last week's "Thirsty Thursday" post about swimming. Always good to be thinking about the purpose of anything you do.

5. Get Into A Rehab Routine

As runners, we are quick to buy recovery tools, but we’re the last to use them. Perhaps it is time to use your foam roller, massage stick, trigger point products, your inversion table, and stretching rope. Try to make the routine part of your day while you are not running to see if you can make it a habit.

6. Address Imbalances

Visit your local physiotherapist and begin addressing your muscles imbalances. These imbalances often lead to injury and prevent you from having a smooth buildup to your goal race. Many runners discover that their quads are overdeveloped compared to their hamstrings, and their hip strength is inadequate for the demands they are placing on their lower body.

I'm in a "rehab routine" right now, and I have been for about 16 months. Check. Done. (But I recently read something about doing TOO much foam rolling etc. and how that's bad because it's not letting your body naturally heal itself. Then it relies on the extra work. Just a theory. But I can see the reasoning behind it for sure.)

And that routine was put in place because of my imbalances. I'm working on #6 big time. And that goes hand-in-hand with upcoming #10 too.

These next 2 are a bit much for me...

7. Get A Blood Test

8. Create An Injury Protocol

Yes, it'd be great to know if my iron is low or my red blood cell count is high, but, as a wiser woman than me once said: ain't nobody got time for that.

And I'm injured a lot, but every injury is so specific that I don't have a specific protocol that I follow each time. I DO have a list of people who I contact when things go wrong, and that's something the article recommends.

9. Do Your Strides

Your running diet should always have a bit of speed work in it. One of the easiest ways to ensure that you are getting a dash of speed is to complete your run a mile from your house, then proceed with 20 seconds of hard running, followed by a 40-second walk or slow jog. Repeat until you get home.

10. Get Strong

Before delving into your base phase, implement a strength routine. Adding too many ingredients at one time can be overwhelming for your body. And then get some rest and enjoy your offseason!

Even though I've stated in my off season plan that I'm not doing any fast work, I DO like to pick up the pace now-and-then. This "20 on, 40 off, for a mile" is a nice recipe to do every once and a while at the end of a run.

And I'm always working on my strength: core, upper body, and legs. This has been important to me for the last few years, and (even though I'm still injured a lot) I feel like it's helped my speed, endurance, and form.

Click the "Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday" tag to see all Thirsty Thursday posts about training tips, body science, and other fun "knowledgeable" things I've come across.


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