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rest: off-season’s greetings

rest santa – original photo ©

Following the Waterford AC Half-marathon last week I said that it was time for off-season. It has been a long year and my mind tells me that the body needs some rest. Naturally, habits, even newly formed ones, do indeed die hard (yes Die Hard is a Christmas movie!).

Had I scheduled my week for certain runs, it probably would have went a lot better. Instead, I slipped into old habits and just ran whatever way I felt and on more than one occasion. A midweek, 90-minute, steady state run at just below last year’s half-marathon pace being one such example! Seriously; why?


In the past, rest and off-season happened naturally following the Dublin Marathon or after the Waterford AC Half-marathon. Usually, if I’m completely honest, by way of a post target slump and loss of interest. There have been years when I’ve taken weeks off or maybe run 2/3 times per week at most, covering no more than 25 miles in total.

This year, I feel very different. I have been expecting and prescribing this rest period with the same planning that I would align to a training calendar for a race. Much like a taper period before a race, I feel like doing nothing else but running. I just want to run not rest!

In the context of recent times, 50-mile weeks are commonplace since the Dublin Marathon. A slight drop on the 60+ weeks leading up to that point. While a slight drop in mileage, the structure of the miles and the quality of effort was entirely focussed on developing speed for the recent half-marathon. Dropping the speed work while trying to drop mileage too, it turns out, is not so easy to do. The miles still come easy.

Another bit of honesty: had I not been knocked off my feet with the ankle injury and the stay in hospital earlier in the year, 2500 miles for 2019 was on the cards. That’s not going to happen but 2400 is possible with my current average and I kinda want it.

looking ahead

Only a couple of weeks until the New Year and new targets. The first of which will be the Tralee Marathon on 11 April. That means roughly 15 weeks from New Year’s Day until my next official marathon. I think this is also part of the problem as to why I’m not taking my rest period too seriously. From the turn of the year, I have a few flexible weeks before I need to really get into the groove with my training. Thus, these last couple of closing weeks for 2019 can foolishly be used to chase mileage targets.

I’m reading my own words here as I type and analysing my thoughts before writing them down. Every single thing I think about rings bells that I’m really not taking this seriously – not in the Coe-Ovett rivalry Christmas Day training sense either. It’s only a couple of weeks though and if I keep the mileage but drop the speed/fun I should see out the year sensibly. Although, there is my Christmas Eve hill sprints tradition still to come…

2020 can start lightly though. Perhaps drop back to 35-mile weeks for a while with nothing but easy pace runs. I am going to Tralee with intent and I will train hard for it – the body will need some recovery before that starts. For now, I think I am straddling the line of being a little reckless while still on the right side of being able to get away with it before training intensity steps up again.

random reckless running

My Saturday run this week went well. Calm, sensible running and just 10 miles thereof. A drop of roughly 6 miles compared to the new norm. However, Sunday morning, the usual 10-mile recovery run, saw me alone with my thoughts as the gang where otherwise engaged. I started off for a few miles without a plan – a very dangerous thing when one is feeling fresh!

A couple of miles in I thought to myself, “just do the 10”. A mile later I was thinking, “12 would be good… feck it, run a half!” However, I hadn’t planned a route. I didn’t anticipate I was running a half. Miles are easy to find though. Moving along easy, I started to think a few hills would be nice, give the legs a good workout. So, I found a few long hills (25+ metre gains). Then on the way back from those, I found a few more (40+ metre gains – view Garmin data). I’m really not getting this rest thing, am I?

no rest for the wicked – random and reckless with no plan at all
no rest for the wicked – random and reckless with no plan at all
a few nice climbs for a rest! heart rate relatively easy overall though
a few nice climbs for a rest! heart rate relatively easy overall though

So, onwards to a hectic week that really should be the world’s way of telling me to rest and take the off-season now. However, I’m sure that I will both find a way to sneak in another 50-mile week and still look forward to Christmas Eve hill sprints!

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