I’m a big believer in taking time off from official training or speed work during the “off season” – giving the legs and mind a chance to recuperate from the rigors of a training cycle. I love to run without a plan or schedule for a while – running if I want, when I want, however fast or not-so-fast I want and having no expectations or pressure.
I try to maintain certain mileage, mostly for maintaining my base and also because it keeps me feeling good (40ish miles work for me), but I generally don’t think about pace too much. At times I’ve worried that taking too much time off speed work will leave me feeling ‘flat’ and slow going into my next training cycle.
I know the break is important, but that doesn’t mean I can’t push the pace occasionally when the mood strikes. I enjoy running along at my happy, comfortable, conversational pace most days… then sometimes I get the urge to just GO. And when that happens, I run with it.
On one of my lunch-time runs last week, I was fueled by the gorgeous sunny day and a new Vega Pre-Workout Energizer that I had the opportunity to try [review coming soon]. As soon as I set foot on the sidewalk, I could tell that I wanted to run fast.
I decided to make my way over to a loop that I used frequently last winter for my mid-day tempo runs. It’s relatively flat and quiet, providing a great 3K route that I would repeat once, twice or three + times in the thick of my training.
I forced myself to slow down for the warm up, and let my legs go as soon as I reached that invisible starting line. The wind on my face, the rhythm of my breathing and the south of my steps were invigorating as I quickly settled into my (PR) half marathon pace. It certainly didn’t feel easy, but it wasn’t supposed to. This was my opportunity to challenge myself and tap into some of my determination that has been locked away for a while now. I unleashed the runner inside who thrives on pushing the limits.
I couldn’t get too carried away on this particular day, but 4K at a “manageably hard” pace was just what I needed to stoke the fire and remind me what’s in store when I kick off my next round of training.
What’s your favourite way to keep things fresh between training cycles?