Make the Most of Downtime

The fall racing season is starting to wind down (how is it Nov already??) and for many runners this time of year is a downtime between training cycles.
But you can still be doing things to help yourself improve during “downtime.”
A few suggestions on how to make this time beneficial for you:
1) Cut yourself some slack

If you just finished a big training cycle it’s important to take some recovery time. And that’s not just physical recovery.
For months you’ve had to work around long runs on the weekends, obsess over splits in workouts, and worry about every sniffle or twinge during the taper. It takes a toll!
So while you’re taking physical recovery time, make sure that it’s mental recovery time, too.
That means if you have a training schedule you’re following (and I think it’s ok if you do), make sure that you’re not too strict about it.
Take a day off if something more interesting comes along, cut a long run short so you can make it to brunch, or take a trip without worrying about what your running routes will be.
You’ll need that mental energy soon enough, so don’t get caught up in being “perfect” with your training.
2) Get in the habit of doing the “little things”

I’m already on the record (you might even say it’s a broken record at this point) about the importance of the “little things” like nutrition, muscle maintenance, and strength work.
But I’m also a realist who understands that you still may not be paying attention to those things regularly. While you’re in-between training cycles is the perfect time to get in the habit, though.
Since you have some extra time (since you’re cutting yourself some slack and all), you can use that time to get in the habit of adding in some “little things.” It will be much easier to keep up the habit once the training cycle starts than it will be to add it in at the same time that you’re adjusting to more training.
Also, if you get in the habit now, you’ll be able to benefit from all those “little things” throughout the entire training cycle — which means better and more effective training!
3) Post-run strides

And speaking of better and more effective training, post-run strides 1-2x / week continue to be the secret weapon that too many runners ignore. They’re not hard (they’re fast, but that’s different), they don’t take much time (5 min after a run is enough), and they can make a big difference in your economy and efficiency at ALL paces.
If you aren’t already including post-run strides regularly, now is a great time to start. This video will cover more of the “why and how” to incorporate them into your training.
Focusing on these three areas will make sure that you’re fresh and stronger than ever to tackle the training for your spring races — all while still enjoying your well-earned downtime.


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About Coach Carl
Coach Carl is a USA Track & Field Level 2 endurance coach who works with runners of all ability levels to reach their goals. He has been featured in Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and Competitor. For information on his coaching services, click here.