Since getting into running in 2010, I’ve gathered so many athletic accomplishments that I’m proud of. I’ve run the Boston marathon, I’ve completed a six-day stage race, I’ve even won a pancake mile. Perhaps the proudest accomplishment I have to date is celebrating three years of injury-free running at the end of this year.
After a few years of injury-riddled running, I had made a few big changes to how I trained, rested and raced. It has made an incredible difference. For me, one of the key elements to this has been taking an appropriate off season. I know that everyone has a different perspective on how they take their time off, but I wanted to share how I do it because it has been extremely effective.
Following the main race of my year, I stop receiving formal training plans from my coach and increase my strength training. I work on muscle imbalances that have cropped up throughout the year, I catch up on the TV shows I missed, I stay out past 9:00 p.m. and I drink more wine. I gain weight and lose fitness.
I give myself permission to just relax and do whatever I want to do. Any workouts I complete are purely just because I feel like it and I often do them with others. I strongly feel that this is one of the most important things I do all year because it gives me a chance to reset and refocus.
Often it’s during this time that I tackle a lot of “life admin” tasks that fall by the wayside while I’m in the thick of training. This includes reorganizing my apartment, cleaning my car, cooking elaborate meals, taking a course and getting some new training gear that I had on my list but wasn’t quite getting to.
I don’t let this time drag on for too long and I find that my body often tells me when it’s over. I start itching to get back to a regular routine. My pants start fitting tight. I begin looking forward to a structured plan.
Around November, I talk to my sports nutritionist and we work out a detox of sorts. Months of sugary gels, protein bars and sports drinks do take a toll and I almost always cut out sugar for the month of November as a reset. I focus on drinking more water, eating more veggies, taking a probiotic and minimizing the amount of caffeine I drink.
When December hits, I start back into base building and ease back into a healthy eating routine that has lots of wiggle room for Christmas dinners. Often by the new year, I’m feeling strong, mentally focused and ready to tackle my racing goals for the year ahead.
You can find me on instagram @lacesandlattes and my personal blog.