Why You Need to Have an Off-Season

The "Race Craze" is spreading like wild fire.

It's when a athlete commits to one race after another after another (after another) without allowing for any time off during the year.

I get it. Truly I do. Races are fun. It's motivating to have purpose in our day, and they can keep you going through the ups and downs of life. But when we race nonstop without a recovery season (a.k.a., "off-season"), the risk of burnout, injury, and chronic fatigue skyrocket. Although continuous racing keeps our minds focused and motivated, it can eventually break our body down.

So what is an off-season anyway?

When I bring this up it tends to make athletes wince, but I believe that's because many don't know what the season is all about. Here is what the off-season isn't:

-It's not about not training at all.
-It's not about punishment or taking away.
-It's doesn't mean lying on the couch binge watching
all the seasons of Orange is the New Black
-It's not racing "for fun."
-It's not rehabbing an injury.

You might be surprised that the off-season isn't off at all. It's only off in terms of the training-racing cycle. But it's on in terms of running, biking, swimming, cross-training and staying fit and active.

Here is a sample off-season that won't scare the bejeezus out of you or your training buddies (promise):

Duration: 4-6 weeks
Frequency: 3-4 days of aerobic work and 1-2 days of cross training
Time: 30-70 minutes (eg. 2-3x per week 30-45 minutes, 1x 60-70 minutes)
Intensity: Easy Effort + (the plus is for fartlek runs, speed work on the bike) 
Type: Cross-training (anything you enjoy —  CrossFit, Zumba, Yoga, Hiking)

So make sure you allow your body and mind time to recover, it will really make a difference as you tackle those big 2017 race goals!