I talk a lot about running and preparing for races, but something that is equally important to pushing yourself during training is making sure you take time to recover and take an off season. Pushing hard in your training puts a lot of strain on your body, and all the damage you have acquired while growing your muscles will catch up to you if you aren’t careful. Giving yourself rest time allows your body to heal, so you have a stronger base when you start your next season. Here are a few of my favorite tips on how to recover during your off season:
If it hurts, just stop
This sounds super simple, but if your body hurts while you are doing something, stop doing it. When we are in season or training for a particular race or event, we push through the pain with our goal as our only focus. Now is the time to shift your mindset from pushing through the pain to not teasing it. If it hurts when you try and run fast, slow down for a while, or give yourself some well deserved time off. This is time to let the pain heal completely so any possible injuries don’t become reoccurring.
Give yourself two weeks
Detrain so you don’t do a full stop, but once you’ve decided it’s time to have an off season, give yourself two full weeks off to rest. If you don’t have any pressing injuries, still give yourself two solid weeks to just relax. Your muscles need time to heal and be prepared for the next season. If you need more than two weeks, take the time off. Two weeks will set you back a little bit, but it will not completely destroy your training, and you will get to your peak again even if you give yourself some time off.
Try something new
If not working out for two week isn’t something you can handle, then do something different. If you normally run, try going for a swim. Go play basketball with some friends. Go for a hike. Try playing ultimate frisbee. The world is your oyster and now that you have a little bit of free time, you should try something that you never thought you’d be good at. Or maybe something you know that you absolutely suck at! Now’s the time to go for it. This doesn’t mean destroy your body playing another sport, it means use different muscle groups. Try something low impact. Go to yoga. Mix things up a bit.
Everyone has a very different running season, so we can’t expect everyone to have the same off season. But we do know that it is crazy important to make sure your body gets the rest it needs and deserves. Especially heading into the holidays, lean into the relaxing time with friends and family, you earned it.