After a long season of training and racing it's important to take some downtime so your body can recover. Not only does your body need a break, but your mind does too. Taking a break may actually make you a better and happier athlete helping you stay in the sport for longer, and therefore have a higher chance of reaching your potential.
Take an end of season break so you don't lose fitness or motivation.
Phase 1: One week of total rest.
After your last race of the season, take a week off. This is to break the habit of daily training and to let your body catch up on itself. If you really want to exercise during this period, you can go for some long walks.
Phase 2: Three to seven weeks of active recovery.
After the first week of rest is over, you should then do three to seven weeks of unscheduled, unstructured light cardiovascular exercise. It doesn't have to be running. Workout duration should be one hour or less, and done mainly at an easy intensity. Take two rest days per week during this phase.
Phase 3: Four to twelve weeks of structured, low volume training (This is the 'Prep Phase' in our structured training plans).
Phase 3 is designed to provide an easy, gradual return to proper training. And is more about getting prepared to train, rather than preparing to race. The weekly volume is nearer half of what you might do later in the year. And most (not all) of the training is at an easy intensity. Phase 3 is also a great time to try new things out. Like joining a new running club or running in new places. It means you can find out what works best for you, before the proper training starts. The length of your Phase 3 depends on how many weeks you have until your target race. For example, if you have 40 weeks until your big event, you can enjoy 8 or 12 weeks of Phase 3 training. Whereas if your target race is in just 24 weeks, you should shorten it to more like 4-weeks.
Once you've finished Phase 3, you can return back to normal training again. From this point you can ramp up the training volume gradually each month, so that your fitness keeps growing.
This article was based on information from our blog post here:
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