You’re probably reading this title thinking, “uh, what? That doesn’t seem right.”
Okay, okay, we simplified the concept a bit. But the true purpose of today’s newsletter is to discuss why rest and off seasons need to be taken seriously.
All Things Off Season (what is it, its purpose, etc):
We always suggest to our athletes to take an “off-season.” (And for those of you new to running, an off-season is essentially a time of the year you use to take a break from your typical running training cycles and routines. Perhaps you switch it up with cross training, more time off in general, etc). These typically range from two weeks to maybe even two months. Some athletes take theirs around the holidays, others take theirs around this time of the year when it’s cold and snowy out to enjoy some other winter sports like downhill or cross country skiing. There’s no ”right” time to take an off season, but rather it should be tactically planned around your goals for the year. For example, say one of our athletes doesn’t have a goal race until July of 2023, and then more races planned for the fall, this means that the winter (so around this time of year), is a great way to take an off season and let the body reset.
What I’ve noticed over the years of who I coach, is that athletes who can take a true off season often see bigger gains that following year or the years to come. And don’t get me wrong, it’s really hard to deliberately choose to lose that fitness. After all, you’ve worked so hard to get there, why would you want to throw it all out the window?! But the thing is, if you try to hold on to your peak fitness, you’re going to end up slipping backwards.
Fitness is Like a Brick Wall:
Imagine your fitness is a brick wall. Over the past year of 2022, you’ve worked hard to build your fitness up to a total of 3 bricks strong. This is AWESOME! It’s the most amount of bricks you’ve ever been able to build up to during a season. When you take an off season or a break from running, realistically, you’ll only end up losing about one brick’s worth of fitness. Not too bad, right? Well, this then gives you the ability to build your fitness up to four bricks strong for the 2023 season. You still had the foundation of your two bricks, and better yet, you could build off of that and continue to get more fit than you ever have before. If you’re a visual learner, here’s what I mean:
There’s a bit more nuance to all of this, and of course there are limitations and exceptions, but this is the general idea of why you take rest periods. You will not be starting from 0, but losing a little fitness ultimately helps you gain more fitness in the years to follow.
Running and Self-Worth:
To those who really struggle to let go of big training weeks, I find that it’s important for them to look inwards and ask themselves if they’re perhaps putting too much of their self-worth in running. And to those people, I hear you! I’ve been there. In fact, most of my life I’ve been playing various sports and always struggled with putting a lot of my self-worth into athletic outcomes or how much training I was doing. I ultimately figured out that this actually hurt my performance, made it unenjoyable. I would’ve done better if I had just taken the rest when I needed it.
Your self-worth should never be tied to running. Try to find other things that you can do while your body takes its time to rebuild itself. Again, I know this is easier said than done. But, I was somebody who always put my self-worth into sports and couldn’t find happiness somewhere else, but this was just a lie I was telling myself. When I realized this, I was able to find joy in so many things – helping people, being of service, adding quality to other people’s life. This may look different for you, but I truly think there’s always a wide variety of things people are good at and enjoy.