6 Things to Focus on During The Running Off Season

Fall is here. That means that you are done with your summer racing season and now we’re heading into the offseason. So, leaves are coming down, I got my rake. 

Fall is here. That means that you are done with your summer racing season and now we’re heading into the offseason. So, leaves are coming down, I got my rake. Well, this is my tiny rake because this massive guy with leaves from last year covered me up and I can’t put it -- fit him in the frame. Anyway, I got my props so I’m ready to go, rake up some leaves, figure out what I’m doing in the offseason. And today, I want to share with you six things you should focus on in your running offseason.

If you haven’t been with me here before, I’m Jesse Funk. This is a show I call Runner’s High where we talk about everything running, especially and including today’s crucial topic, the things that you need to focus on in the offseason. And the reason it is so crucial is because it’s the base of how the rest of your year goes. It’s nice, it’s sexy to talk about all the speed work and the fun things like that, and I love doing those things. However, if you haven’t put in the work in the offseason, your foundation is going to be faulty and then those things may not pan out. So, we want to figure out what should we be focusing on in the offseason. And the number one thing I want to share with you is either weight loss or muscle gain.

Now, it actually can’t be both, and I’ve talked about this a lot on the channel, especially after the Olympics when Christian Blumenfeld won the men’s triathlon because he is one if not the heaviest or densest, I guess I should say, people in that field, yet he won on the Olympic stage. You do not have to be this tiny, skinny, thin-rail kind of runner to be really good at it. I definitely don’t fit in this category, I am relatively thin.

But compared to some of my compatriots, I definitely weigh more for the height that I am. And that’s okay. But in the offseason, this gives you time to kind of with that and then figure out where do you need to be.

If you need to lose weight, generally, you don’t want to lose more than like -- you don’t want to be more than like 200 calories per day under what you’re eating. Because then you can run into burning way too much energy and end up in overtraining syndrome. Even during base building because you’re still burning calories you need to take calories in, you’re trying to get your body to burn fat to get leaner. But you don’t want to cannibalize muscle and you don’t want to end up in a place where you aren’t recovering fast enough. So, when you don’t have all of the intensity of speed work, that’s the time to focus on that.

And as somebody who’s gone through this, especially post-pandemic, we all ate a bunch of things to make ourselves feel better. At least I did, I guess I’ll speak for myself, while everything was just locked up and we’re at home, and we’re just dealing with all these stressful things and sugar is an easy thing to turn to. You may gain weight like I did and you got to get a little bit leaner. So, you do that during the offseason.

And then when you focus on how much you weigh, you should probably also take measurements in terms of what’s my body composition. So, fat versus muscle, those kinds of things if you can. And then if you’re only taking weight, I take it every day and then just average it over the week. It’s going to vary depending on inflammation. Like I did my first track session yesterday because my season is a little bit different than yours, and I’m up today in weight because of the inflammation. I’m a little sore as I’m shooting this video and inflammation can lead to weight gain. So, you want to average over a week, don’t take any one given day as good or bad. So, that’s the number one thing you want to focus on.

Number two and this goes right along with it, and that’s trying out new food or supplement routines. So, if there’s something you’ve been wanting to try, something you’ve been meaning to do, but you follow the adage, nothing new on race day, this is the time to try it. So, that goes along with something we’re focusing on here at Solpri, we’re bringing out a new sports drink. And you’re like ugh, another sports drink.

But we’re doing it a little bit differently in that we’ll be able to offer you a test, an at home test. You don’t have to come to us, we don’t have to come to you. We can send you a kit. We can test your sweat, and then figure out how many electrolytes are you actually losing in your sweat and match you up with one of our new sports drinks. It’s the line, it’s a series to correctly figure out okay, you lose a lot or you lose a little or whatever it is because it’s the different for each person, it’s largely genetically determined and then you need to be paired up correctly.

So, if you’ve been using something and you’re not sure if it’s right, we can give you that test and then show, yes, that’s the right thing. Or we’ll also be able to send you what we think is appropriate from our upcoming line. So, January 2022, that’s our anticipated launch date. After many, many frustrating months in R&D, we’re finally getting ready to come out. But regardless of whether you’re trying to try our stuff, Solpri.com/shop or whether you are trying somebody else’s, whatever it is, the offseason is the perfect time to think about that because you don’t have any races coming up.

You can see, hey, did this work? How did I feel? Did I feel great? Did I feel like crap? How did these things work out for me? And then you troubleshoot when the stress is off, not right before you’re going to do something big you spent all year preparing for.

The third thing you want to focus on is improving your form. Now, I did another video on should you change your running form. And that is a big question, still remains. You just have to check out that video, subscribe, stick around, check out that video here in a minute. But if you’re going to change your running form, again, this is the time to do it. Because when you’re in the stress of speed work, all those kind of things, you don’t want to add another layer of complexity on top of it. The perfect time to do it is when your body is under lower levels of stress when your base building, adding miles but not intensity, and you’re training your body to run in a new style.

If you go down that route, as I suggested in the video, you’re going to need somebody to look at what you’re doing. I injured myself and missed out on my last season of collegiate running because I was trying to train my form to be better, because I ran real goofy. It worked but it wasn’t the best way for me to run. And after I got it switched post-college under the tutelage of somebody who knew what they were doing, I proved to be much more efficient, and can run the same times under much less mileage. So, if you’re going to do it, find a good coach, somebody who can look at your form, your videos, all that kind of thing. But this is the time to focus on improving your running form, doing those drills, all that kind of stuff.

Number four is a big one. And that is cross training. So, you spent a lot of time working, just running but there are probably other things that you’ve neglected, like how to move side to side. It’s something we don’t really do a whole lot in running. You may not have worked on your upper body much. And these things don’t necessarily make you a better runner directly. But I’m a big believer that they will probably help prevent injuries. Assuming that you go into it with moderation. You don’t just go full bore into CrossFit or something and then try to hurt yourself. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is doing other things in lieu of running to allow those kind of running biomechanics in the muscles that get used over and over and over throughout the entire year to just chill out for a minute, not have the stress of running.

And that goes along with tip five which is rest. The thing you should be focusing on is rest in the offseason, which is right after your A event and you have nothing else going on, take time off. You need time to recover. So, taking time off, cross training. And in that time off depending on your schedule and how heavily you are invested in what you’re doing, sometimes you can cross train in that time off as a way to stay active without really pushing yourself on just that running. The biggest thing with rest is that you need to come back mentally ready to run again. For me, we take three weeks off after the A race in the season which is often in August for me. And then by the end of the three weeks, I’m ready to go again. There’s always a mental fatigue that accumulates over the 11 months of hard training. So, taking that time off is important.

And the last button certainly not least thing you should be focusing on in the offseason is enjoying yourself. That means having fun, forgetting about running for a minute and doing some stuff that maybe you wouldn’t normally get to do because you’re so serious about running. Enjoy yourself. Go out, figure out what is fun if you haven’t done anything in a while. Try some stuff. Go out to a festival, show up for a Christmas party. Whatever it is, find something that you find enjoyable and do that because we need that mental rest and that mental reprieve as well. There’s a reason that we say, running is 90% mental and 10% physical, because our minds rule how our body is going to respond.

Now we do have to give our bodies rest and allow it to recuperate. But if your mind isn’t in a good state, you’re not going to get the best out of yourself that you possibly can. And part of that is feeding your mind, feeding your soul in some ways through things you find fun. And we don’t always have time to do that when we’re dedicated to running. So, during the offseason, you say I’m going to step back a little bit, enjoy some things, give myself a little mental relief along with that physical relief, and enjoy myself.

What that means to you, only you can decide. But I think it is critical for your long term health to be able to balance the intense amount of pressure that you put on yourself. Or at least I guess I do, for your running season to perform and can meet your own goals. As well as how do I feel overall in my everyday, because that does affect how we’re running.

So, even if you’re only concerned with how you’re running, how you feel overall, is going to be a factor in that. So, you have to enjoy yourself so that you can, in effect, be able to be serious about running. So, what questions do you have for me about running, about this show, anything you like, leave them down in the comments below. I’ll get back to you or maybe make a video for you in the future. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.


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