I don’t know about you, but I’m in training purgatory. Training purgatory signals a slight “thickening” around my waist, while I adopt a “sure, why not?” attitude towards desert (beer) and a second helping at dinner. And although the thickening is typically indistinguishable to those around me, most runners know what this feels like. It’s that “blahness” that accompanies your affect when you’re coming down from peak fitness.
Unless you’re sneaking off for a January half or full, it’s likely you’re sitting here with me… in training purgatory. So what should you be doing in between your training cycles? Most runners acknowledge the need to step down their training, but you don’t want to lose all your fitness gains. Right?
For me, this is an important time. It marks zero pressure running. And although I still run with a watch, my “whatever” attitude from food soon engulfs my running.
If you find yourself meandering through training purgatory waiting for your next race to start, below are some tips to pass the next 6-8 weeks before you start training again. So go ahead… grab yourself a second helping of potatoes or another cookie. You deserve it. 🙂
1. Zero Expectation Running
Whether you’re last training cycle was a huge success or a bust, it’s important to reconnect with running. Let’s face it. It’s not uncommon for our running to feel like a chore when we’re training. We rush to fit it all in, juggling a handful of other tasks and schedule.
During your training purgatory go out and run just to run. Set zero expectations of time, distance, and pace. Go out and simply come back when you’re ready. To me, these are the best runs.
2. Keep It Slow
Unless you’re squeezing in a few short races before training officially begins, avoid working too hard. Wouldn’t it suck to stir up an injury before your training cycle begins? Who wants to get off to a rocky start? Not me and I’m guessing not you.
Find a pace between your easy and base building pace. The sweet spot hovers around a pace that you’re breathing is easy and you can chat freely without gasping for oxygen.
3. Prep for Training
As most runners begin training for their spring races it’s important to avoid a complete shut down. Doing so will not only will it zap your current level of fitness, but it could weaken your tolerance to injury when you start training again.
Following tip one and two, work to build your mileage to roughly 50% of your max training volume. For example, if your maximum weekly mileage during training is 50 miles, aim to maintain 25 weekly “purgatory miles.”
I recommend having a minimum of three solid weeks of running at 50% before starting your training plan.
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