800m off season training

The off-season is the period ranging from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, between your last race and the start of your base training. This time is taken “off” running, hence why it’s called the off-season. The purpose of having this valuable time off is multifold. An important reason is so that you can get rid of any injuries that may have been building up through the racing season, but may or may not have “surfaced” yet. Other important reasons are to regain energy, both physically and mentally, to prepare your body and mind for the hard months of training to come, as well as building up some motivation. Sometimes it’s important to give yourself the space to miss running a little bit and look forward to getting back into training.

What to do during off-season

For off-season training, whether it’s for the 800m or any other distance event, the most important thing is to not screw up. That’s it. That should always be your #1 priority when it comes to running. Personally, I’ve known too many athletes (myself included) who have done too many stupid things during off-season that very well could have impaired their running career. I pulled my hamstring once, when I was challenged to a 150m race towards the end of a 4 week off-season. I’ve seen a very promising Junior European 1500m medalist completely tear his achilles tendon during an off-season beer mile and never return to track. To be fair, from what I’ve heard he had been plagued with achilles injuries before that, but still, you should always try to avoid screwing up during off-season.

Other than that, you are almost completely free to enjoy life however you want and do all the things you normally wouldn’t do during training or racing season. Go party with your friends, go hiking in the mountains with your significant other, try out new activities. Unless you take more than a month off or spend all your off time in bed watching TV, whatever fitness you lose by not running during off-season will be regained fast once you start training again.

off-season pleasures

Drinking some beer during off-season is perfectly fine, and I endorse it (given that you are of legal drinking age). Drinking lots of beer every day during off-season is not perfectly fine and could jeopardize your health. Always remember: #1 priority is to not screw up. (Beer in picture is Kilkenny)

Off-season training

Doing alternative training is also a way to spend the off-season. If you want minimize the loss of fitness or maybe just love being physically active, this is probably your best bet. Realise though, that there is a trade-off. If you do a lot of training during your off-season you will start your base training at a higher fitness level and work from there, but it may take away from the main off-season benefits, like getting a fresh and energized mind and body ready to tackle a long period of training. There probably is a golden mean here, but I know elite runners at both ends of the spectrum. David Rudisha supposedly had two months off after his 2012 Olympic and world record breaking season.

Some examples of alternative training to do during off-season is:

  • Swimming
  • Aqua jogging
  • Cycling
  • Cross country skiing
  • Elliptical machine walking

Those are just off the top of my head, and there are probably many more types of alternative training that could keep your strength at an acceptable level while letting your legs take a break from the stress of running.

As always, if you have any comments, just post them below and I’ll try to answer them as soon as I can.


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