Every season must come to and end, and when it does, runners often wonder what to do next. My response is always the same: take a break. Take some time off from running. Go home right after school while it’s still light out. Catch up on schoolwork, sleep, friendships, and other aspects of life neglected during XC season. Enjoy just being a “normal” kid for some time. From logging summer miles in June to big meets in November, XC is a very long and demanding season. After which, you need a break because once training for track starts up, it doesn’t stop until late May or early June. Taking a break allows you to recover and rejuvenate physically and mentally.
The article at the bottom of this blog seconds this sentiment and also has a lot of great information. Read it. Print it. Embrace it.
Now that you’ve decided to take a break, the next question is for how long. My standard response is at least 2 weeks or even more. If need be, take more until the flame of desire to go for a run returns and is burning brightly. After hearing this, most runners shudder with fear – “2 weeks! But won’t I lose my fitness and be completely out of shape for track?!?” You will lose some fitness, there’s no denying it, but the mental and physical gains of this break FAR outweigh and minor loss in fitness. This is so important, let me say it again. The mental and physical gains from a break FAR outweigh any minor loss in fitness. Remember, we are training to be fast in late April and May. I don’t need you nor do I want you in top fitness in January. What I need is for you to be healthy and excited to start the next long block of training. Starting back up in December gives you plenty of time to get your running legs back so you can race fast in late April and May.
This time away from running also gives distance runners a chance to work on often neglected aspects of their training: strength and flexibility. Get into the weight room. Strengthen that core. Attend the free Yoga session that Coach Foster set up on December 8th. The stronger and more flexible your body is, the more you can train injury free. Distance runners often shun these aspects of body care, most likely because they are not good at it. This is especially true for young runners who often struggle with both. Winter is a great time to work on your weaknesses and make them strengths.
So, take a break! After a long xc season, you more than anyone else deserve it.
See you in 2 weeks!