It’s marathon week here in New York City! Everywhere you look, smiling faces are bounding down the streets on fresh, taper-week legs. Come Sunday, 50,000 of the most dedicated athletes will take the five boroughs by storm, turning the city into an epic sports arena. The marathon is without a doubt, my favorite spectator sport (the energy! the city as backdrop! the drink specials!). However, for many of you, the marathon is something you DO, not something you WATCH. This post is for you (and also for anyone out there who has ever finished a race/fitness program/achieved a fitness goal and thought, “What now?”).
Coming to the end of a training season can sometimes be a bit of a bummer. Yes, it’s a relief at first, but when you’re done reveling in the recovery calories, you may just find yourself missing the structure, the feeling of accomplishment, and cadence of a training schedule. When I first started racing (running), I just did the same things all year round. I ran a little bit less when I didn’t have a race coming up, but my routine was pretty much the same. Over the years – and with the addition of multi-sport – I’ve gotten a little more sophisticated.
Right after the season ends, I take a break! I don’t have a set amount of time that I “dial out” after the season, but I always do it. Sometimes it’s a couple of days, sometimes it’s a couple of weeks. I let myself sleep in, I don’t schedule any of my workouts. I just do whatever exercise I feel like doing, whenever I feel like doing it. A personal fave this year has been little baby calisthenic workouts while watching netflix.
After I’ve embraced my inner slug (not an exaggeration), I focus on the forms of exercise that I’ve been a) missing and couldn’t make time for during training season or b) have been wanting to try. After my tri season ended this summer, I started going back to dance classes and did a “new client special” month at Pure Barre. It gave me the chance to focus on different muscles and movement patterns, and kept me in shape while I gave my training brain a break.
Have you been dying to try that new kickboxing studio in your neighborhood, but didn’t want to get injured before the big race? Now’s your moment! Hip flexors feeling tight since your yoga practice took a back seat to running? Get yourself to some vinyasa flow! Dedication is wonderful, but it’s also important to dabble when it comes to fitness. When you started racing, you were probably just dipping a toe in the water. You may just find your next fitness love!
Finally, embrace the little places you can get exercise that don’t require the intensity of training. Right now, I’ve been doing a lot of hiking, walking when running errands, and (new office perks) riding my bike to work. Yes, I’m still doing real workouts, but I can get away with 3-4 days a week of those because I’ve managed to build so much more movement in my day to day activities (and I’m not preparing for any races). It’s a nice change of pace, that has got me SO reinvigorated for tri season that I’ve been reading every triathlon magazine I can get my hands on and plotting out my 2018 season.
If you’re running the marathon this weekend – have a great race! I’ll be rooting for you from afar. Whether you race or not, if you’re starting to feel burnt-out in whatever your fitness regimen is, try a few of these “off-season” alternatives. I am completely unqualified to suggest them, but they’ve made me a better, happier athlete!
What do you do in the off-season?