The running season can be a long one. You’ve probably trained for countless hours to reach your goal – whether competitive or training. You’ve demanded a lot from your body. Now it’s time to give it something back. Here you can find out everything about the running break or the so-called off-season and how you can make the most of it as a runner.
Why take a break from running at all?
A seasonal break only makes sense if you have actually trained for a season as a runner. But then the advantages are obvious: the break gives your body and mind time to recover and thus replenish your strength and motivation reserves.
A running season and especially a marathon demand a lot from the body. Tendon and ligament structures are strengthened in the long term by running training, but they also need time to recover and adapt. The break is therefore crucial to reduce the risk of injury, to give the body time to recover and to get back into it full of joy from the mind as well.
For whom does it make sense to take a break from running?
If you run twice a week and hardly do any intensive training or competitions, you probably don’t need a break. But if you train more often and more intensively, a break makes sense.
You have to bear in mind that a break from running means breaking a routine, which often takes some effort. You must therefore have the strength to stay calm when your head and muscles are screaming for a brisk run. Because both body and mind need a rest.
Which is the ideal time to take a season break?
A break makes sense right after a classic seasonal build-up with the big running goal in late summer/autumn.
How long does a seasonal break last?
The duration is very individual and difficult to generalise. Depending on the general training condition, the intensity of the load and the physical condition, the recovery of destroyed muscle structures, the replenishment of energy stores and the psychological recovery can take three to five weeks. It is best to define the optimal period for yourself at the beginning of the break.
What does a break from running look like?
A season break does not necessarily mean no running at all. For example, you can simply forego the intensive sessions and only do relaxed running training or alternative sports. Ideally, however, you don’t plan anything during this time and train mainly according to your mood.
So “break” definitely doesn’t just mean laying down and eating chocolate. A break means keeping your body going with moderate training. Use the time to try out other sports (crawling, spinning, yoga, pilates, etc.). You can find ideas for alternative forms of winter training here.
You can help your body to get back on top more quickly by eating a high-quality, protein-rich diet and integrating regenerating measures such as sauna, massage, bath or rolling on the Black Roll into your daily routine. But also use the break to do things that you usually neglect. Eat whatever you feel like, you can also gain a little weight during this time. In winter, this minimises the risk of infection.
What do I lose during the seasonal break?
A complete break from training leads to a loss of performance after just a few days. Endurance and speed will decrease accordingly. In addition, very active runners experience significantly increased psychological stress levels after 10-14 days of absolute abstinence from training.
The good news, however, is that all the areas that deteriorate quickly during the short break can also be quickly rebuilt after the return to training.
How do you get back on track after a break?
After a break, you are usually very motivated, but you should still hold back a little and not get overexcited. A good build-up, especially in the winter months, where you focus on basic training as well as strengthening and stabilisation training, is worthwhile. It is also advisable to keep a close eye on your heart rate during training, especially in the beginning, and to run less according to pace, as the former is a more objective indicator of individual performance.
If you are planning to compete in races (city races, New Year’s Eve runs, cross-country races) at this stage, you should do so out of training and mainly for fun. For more information, check out the following article: 6 Tips for Resuming Training after the Seasonal Break.
How do I integrate the break into my training plan?
In general, it is worthwhile to train as you feel like it during this time, but still keep track of your workouts so that you can really get an overview. More intensive units can be replaced by endurance runs or omitted altogether. In running.COACH, each training session can also be performed alternatively. The corresponding information is displayed.
Be brave and please don’t be afraid of losing your form. It doesn’t happen that quickly. But you should also not expect THE top form immediately after returning to running. The break will pay off, maybe only a little later.
Author blog post: Stefanie Meyer, Update: Jonas Merz