Have you ever scheduled an off-week from running? If you typically run 1-2 goals races per year, you probably schedule your off-weeks around those races. However, this year is quite different for many of us! Without any big races happening we may just be going through the same running routine week after week, with no real structure to our training.
Why and How to Schedule an Off-Week from Running
When we think about our running over the course of a year it’s important to try to use micro and macro training cycles, or periodization. We want to think about planning out what each training block will look like in terms of hard/easy workouts, building volume, and recovering. Within one training cycle we might spend a few weeks focusing on base-building before moving into the actual training and sharpening, and follow that up with a taper before a race. Following the race a recovery period is important to prepare for the next block of training.
So when you think about the big picture of your running over the year, it can be helpful to identify 1-3 peak periods such as a goal race. You can build your training around that. For example, if you plan to run marathons in May and November, you may spend January focusing on base-building, then you would train for your race, and take some recover in June. The you would go back to base-building (or maintenance) in July, and start training for your race again August. December would be recovery period.
Training Plans for 2020
I went into 2020 planning to do a May half-marathon and I was hoping to do a fall marathon. I focused on base-building in January and started training in February. My race was cancelled by the beginning of April, at which point I stopped following my training plan. Instead I ran some virtual races and focused on building mileage. I won’t be running a fall marathon this year either.
As I looked back on my running for this year it became obvious that I have not been periodizing my training in any sort of systematic way. I have taken cut back weeks but it’s been challenging to look at the big picture of my running when I didn’t know if any races would take place this year.
It’s important to look at your overall training for a long period of time to see if you are making progress towards your goals. I guess what makes this year a little extra challenging is that I haven’t had one big goal to work towards! It seemed like this would be a good time to take an off-week from running now that my summer challenge is over. I want to reset and think about how to structure my running this fall.
Here are a few reasons to schedule an off-week from running when they don’t naturally happen following a big race:
- The weather has been consistently very hot or very cold and you want to take a break now before the weather improves
- You’ve run higher mileage than you are used to for a few months
- You’ve had any niggles/small aches or pains that you just haven’t been able to get rid of
- You are preparing to start a new training cycle in the next month
- You’re dealing with other types of stress in your life or have not been getting enough sleep
There are many reasons to take time off of running, and you don’t always need to schedule them out in the way I described. However, if running has been going well overall, but you haven’t taken an off-week in a long time, these are some things to consider.
Why I’m taking an Off-Week From Running Now
I decided that now it a good time for me to take some time off for a few reasons. I know I won’t want to do this when it eventually cools off this fall. I’ve also been feeling more tired and I know I’m not getting as much sleep as I need to. Work has been more stressful and I am still trying to survive without childcare help. This has meant late nights of doing work rather than spending any time relaxing and recovering. I am hoping that I can use some extra time this week to catch up on sleep, tackle my to-do list, and try to give myself a little break.
Not Everyone Needs an Off Week
I know some people have adjusted their training this year in different ways, maybe by running less overall or focusing on cross-training instead. While mentally and physically it’s good to take a break once in awhile, if running hasn’t been your main focus this year then you may not need an off-week from running. (Although taking a break from all workouts isn’t a bad idea either if you feel like you need it!)
Just remember to look at the big picture of your training and workouts, pay attention to how you are feeling, and listen to your body. It can be refreshing for the body and mind to take a few days or weeks to relax and reset.
Do you periodize your training throughout the year?
When was the last time you took a week off of running?
Have you still been following a schedule/training plan in 2020 even though most races have been cancelled?
Please welcome Laura as our new Runners’ Roundup co-host! We’ve had some changes in co-hosts and the image below has been updated. The link-up is now hosted by myself, Debbie, Deborah, Jenn, and Laura.
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below! Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs , and Laura Norris Running to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.