. . . even if you don’t race
You don’t have to race to run, and I have plenty of friends who just love to run. Period.
What if you do enjoy a race, now and again, or more frequently? What happens when you have some racing downtime, for whatever reason — should you simply run for fun, or maybe train — just a little? All the cross training? Strength train?
I do think that getting back to strength training and cross training when you have more time does a body good. What about running?
Training does a body good
Our bodies quickly adapt to any exercise we throw at it. That’s why it’s a good idea to switch up what sort of exercise you do and why it’s a good idea to change the weights you lift, too.
If you run the same 3 mile loop at the same pace every day, yup, your body is going to adapt to that. There’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s your jam, but you won’t be increasing your cardiovascular fitness and worse — at some point you’ll probably find yourself really bored and you might stop running altogether.
Variety is the spice of life
Some people love eating the same thing day after day after day. Not only would that bore me, but that boredom could lead me to actually overeat the wrong things.
Running the same distance, at the same pace, in the same place . . . to me, that’s boring. I don’t have to push myself hard if there’s no race in the future, but mixing things up with a little speed work here, a few hills there just keeps things interesting . . . and keeps my body guessing and adapting.
Keep your body injury free
Running can be an addiction and like any other addiction, if you’re clean for a while and relapse, you forget that you no longer have a tolerance to your drug of choice (in this case running).
That’s when you go out, run at a pace or distance you used to train at, and wham! You’re on the bench due to injury. Keeping a little training in your life will help keep you in shape and remind you of where you are now.
Ready to go
You can be ready to start training earlier by simply keeping in a little light training in your off season/downtime. There’s no reason to run every day, or do speedwork twice a week, but a little something — strides, 400m repeats, “easy”/short hill repeats, a fartlek — once a week will keep your body guessing and adapting, which will make it easier to slide back into heavier training when the time is right.
Don’t get hung up on it, though
Having a busy week? Feeling “run” down? Run less days than normal. Make them all easy runs. Maybe even just do cross training instead. Not running for a week or two won’t kill you, and might even do your body a world of good.
An off season/down time is a great time to remind yourself why you feel in love with running in the first place. There’s no reason to push too hard, no reason to run all the miles, and every reason to listen to your body and change up what you have planned based on how you’re feeling.
Always remember: running is something we get to do, not something we have to do. It’s easy to lose sight of that when there’s a race involved — most of us need some amount of training in order to race without injuring ourselves.
Running is patient. Much more patient than runners are. It will wait for us. Occasionally you’ll need to break up with running just a little, or ease up on your mileage and effort to allow your body time to recover. When you’re recovered, if you don’t have any real goals for your running, it’s still a good idea to take it up a notch every once in a while to keep your body guessing, keep you mentally engaged, and make sure you’re prepared and ready for the demands of running harder when you resume your training. — Chocolaterunsjudy
Do you enjoy having some downtime from racing?
Do you still mix things up when you’re not racing?
Or do you just love to run but not so much to race?