When you are a high school, college, or professional athlete there is always an off season, but as we transition out of this structured form of training, our “off seasons” seem to fade away. The purpose of the off season is to give your body a break from performing the repetitive movement patterns required of the sport to avoid injuries as well as the general aches and pains that come with overuse. Due to this lack of rest or planned off seasons for the everyday athlete, we end up treating a lot of injuries at PeakRx that stem from overuse. In particular, running seems to be especially difficult for our athletes to find the right ratio for time on and off.
Below are 3 different types of runners that most every day athletes fall under and some guidelines for how to approach off seasons to help reduce the chances of overuse injuries. Read the description of each type and find which one that best describes you. Not only will it be good for your body but it will also be good for your running performance too.
Athlete Description: In the world of quarantine and home exercising, this athlete finds themselves only running because they don’t know what else to do. They probably subscribe to the idea that running builds strength.
Off-Season Ideas: Running is not a strengthening exercise, it’s a cardiovascular exercise. Our bodies need a strengthening supplement if you are doing running of any kind. Running is a high impact activity and if there is no time dedicated to strengthening to prepare for that impact, it leaves room for injury to happen. I highly encourage you to pick a couple of days a week to do some body weight training. It is free and you can perform movements at home pretty easily. There is a plethora of resources online to give you ideas of how to do this. Check out this blog from Runners World for an example strength workout.
Athlete Description: This athlete runs at least 10 miles a week. Typically running happens a couple of times a week maybe back to back days depending on how busy the week is. Instinctively good at running, it does not take long to build up tolerance to long distance and can run a 5k any day of the week.
Off-Season Ideas: We cannot count the amount of people who we see that come in fit this description. Despite their natural inclination to run, they are so weak especially with activity that requires side to side movements because that’s not where their strengths are. So take an abstract view of an “Off Season”, think of it as time incorporated during the week to avoid strictly forward movement. Meaning you should be taking a few days during the week off from running and find an outlet for exercise that will force you to move in different directions.
For exercise try High intensity interval training (HIIT), you will find you will get your heart rate up and it will challenge your body in different ways. Because running is such a taxing cardiovascular exercise, your muscles are really well trained to endure for prolonged periods performing the same task. When you add something like HIIT training where you perform a variety of timed movements and you add weights, you are then tapping into the ability for your muscle to generate power. This type of training is different from running so as you train that aspect I promise you will see an improvement in your running speed and efficiency of movements.
Athlete Description: This athlete has probably just completed their 5th marathon because they are a sucker for punishment. And most likely they are already planning their next one. It is pretty natural to be constantly pushing themselves, which is why they like to participate in marathons.
Off-Season ideas: Treat this like a true off-season, every good competitor needs one. Take at least the next month off from running entirely. Challenge yourself to get good at something else. Biking, rowing and swimming are all really good alternative cardiovascular exercises and you will see that your endurance is not quite the same. You might find yourself enjoying the cross training and you can channel your energy into signing up for a triathlon next.
At the end of the day our ask from everyone is to move differently! Your muscles will benefit from it, your joints will benefit from it and your running will benefit from it.