Many of us have wrapped up our racing seasons some time in the last month or so. Those of us who haven’t likely will be in the next month or so.
So the logical question to ask at this point is – what next? What do we do between now and spring?
While I would strongly encourage that you take advantage of the winter to build a solid base in order to make your spring goals more attainable, that’s not what I would recommend immediately after your last race of the year.
In the more short term, give yourself some down time. If you trained and raced hard, you are likely both physically and mentally/psychologically/motivationally drained. You may not be injured or burned out (and I hope you aren’t) but you probably at least feel a little worn down.
I prefer a period of at least 4 weeks to rest, recover and get yourself back in a good place to begin training for the next year. If you don’t feel physically and motivationally ready after 4 weeks, then take more time.
So what do we do during these 4 weeks? Well, here’s what I would recommend.
Week 1: Do whatever you want. I would recommend some activity but, if you want to be a complete couch potato for this week, do so. I would actually recommend not running but, if you’re like me and running is such an integral part of your life that you’re lost without it, go ahead and run. Just keep it short and easy. Don’t even think of it as training.
Week 2: If you kept some light activity around, then continue with that. If you didn’t, I’d encourage you to do something. If you don’t want to run yet, don’t. Go for some walks. Go for a bike ride. Whatever you want, just so you’re doing something. If there’s something you like doing but you’ve been neglecting while in deep training, this is a great time to enjoy that activity. You’re still not training, though. You’re just keeping a healthy routine and enjoying your activities.
Week 3: You can do a little more if you wish. No pressure to do more yet but make sure you’re at least minimally active. If you are feeling ambitious, this could be a good time to add in some light strength training. Focus on good form, you don’t need to be maxing out at this point.
Week 4: Much like week 3, do a little more if you wish. Keep it easy for one more week, though. The hope in this week is that you will finish this week feeling physically and mentally recharged and ready to get back into your training.
Once done with these 4 weeks, if you’re feeling ready, begin thinking about training again. Make sure you start up gradually. You have plenty of time before your important races next year.