Off-Season vs. Base Building: How to Structure Time off

As runners wrap up their training and goal races for the year, they may struggle with how to structure the off season before harder training resumes. A shift in language and how you approach this training block can make all the difference.

While the term “off-season” is commonly used to describe the down time for runners after a goal race, it may not be the best language to maximize the benefits of this training phase. All training is cyclical and it’s important to remember that this period of lighter training is just as essential to your success as those high mileage weeks!

Though some runners struggle with taking time off, it’s important to give yourself a period of down time after heavy training. Even if your body feels ok, there is a great deal of microtrauma that occurs from hard racing, and your body needs time to heal.

Off Season Running vs. Base training

After a longer race like a marathon, taking 5-10 days of formal recovery is ideal. It’s after that where many runners get lost in how to structure their running. Going back to hard training too soon can burn you out mentally and physically. But continuing to do nothing for weeks on end means a loss of fitness and a greater risk of injury as you ramp back up.

This week’s episode is an opportunity for me to discuss how to manage that time between seasons, often called an ‘off-season’ (though I prefer a combination of rest and base training phases).

I address many of the goals of a base phase in training, including: 

  • Letting your engine get back to neutral to heal from your goal race
  • Refreshing mentally from the grind of hard training
  • Building neuromuscular coordination, strength, endurance
  • Enjoying some extra time to try new things!
  • Taking advantage of the opportunity to work on sleep and other healthy habits

If your goal is to continue pushing your fitness forward, getting your base phase training right can make a big difference in preparing for an upcoming season!

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Thank You InsideTracker!


This episode is brought to you by InsideTracker, one of the most reputable blood testing companies in the world. They were founded in 2009 by aging, genetics, and biometrics scientists to help you analyze your body’s data and get a firm idea of how well you’re responding to training.

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