As runners we are often building up towards a specific event and training for a goal. A race in the diary helps to motivate us and hold us accountable to our training but too many races, especially longer distances from half marathon to ultras, can actually have a negative impact on our performance. We cannot peak and expect to get the best out of yourself if we pack in back to back races. It is best to have a main target (A Race) with some ‘low key’ races (B Race) in the build up to your big goal (A Race). These B Races allow us to test our fitness and practice racing before we take on our A Race. But what do we in between times? Here are my top tips for training for ‘nothing’:
Bank some motivation
When we are training for a race we are likely to have 1-2 hard sessions and a long run during the week. Whilst we aren’t building to peak fitness, the focus should be on building your aerobic capacity and not over stressing the body. Harder sessions add more stress. Reduce the volume of intensity each week by dropping one of your harder run days and reducing your long run. This will not only give your body a physical break but a mental break too. When it comes to training for an event, you’ll be more motivated to push in those harder sessions again!
Strengthen your weaknesses
During an intense training block, it is not uncommon to pick up niggles here and there. We might even neglect our strength work and prioritise run sessions. Now is a great time to replace some of your running time with time in the gym. This will help you get stronger and be able to cope with the higher demands of training when you start building towards a race.
The mantra ‘consistency is key’ is fundamental to staying injury free and running faster. When we are in a training block for a race, our weekly mileage will likely build week on week until it is taper time. When we are not building, it is important to keep up a good base mileage so you are ready to kick off the next block and you are not building from scratch. Be sensible with what you think your base mileage is, it should be lower than your weekly mileage during race training. If you started your last block at 25 miles a week, then look to maintain this (or just under) between your races.
Add some cross training
If you’ve factored in tip number 3, you’ll potentially have some extra time on your hands. As well as filling this with gym time, you could also add some non-impact forms of training such as elliptical, biking, rowing and swimming. This will help you keep fit and build that base but without the impact from running, will be kinder on the body.
Socialise and explore!
Most of your training will consist of easy to steady running. These are the best type of runs for joining group social runs and heading out to explore new routes. Take a break from that track or repetitive park loop you used for all your training sessions!