Monday, 17 October 2016

Break or Break

Guest Blog - reproduced with Author's permission from Abingdon AC website. 

September always used to be regarded as the end of one running year and the start of the next – track was coming to an end and cross country had not yet started. Many distance runners are compulsive animals for whom the very thought of life without any running would be an anathema, especially when autumn is such a fantastic time of year for simply getting out for a few relaxing miles while we still have some daylight in cool and maybe even dry evenings. What’s more combining this sort of training with the speed we’d accrued over the summer was an ideal set up for enjoying a few relays.

Relaxing autumn miles.....

After bashing out fast stuff on track or road over the summer this period was as much a mental break as a physical one before getting down to the rigours of winter work. Things have changed somewhat nowadays, road races of varying distances are available year-round and for example September and October now seem to be the Great Run season.

In December a few years ago I was talking to a seasoned senior athlete who said he’d lost all zip when it came to the cross country season and was fed up. A look at his Power of Ten page showed that after a busy summer on the road (with some track) he’d gone straight into 3 or 4 half marathons in swift succession that he’d specifically trained for. By December, he wasn't injured, just basically running on empty. He agreed to try a few weeks of low-key running, no long or hard stuff, just easy half hour runs, whenever possible in daylight and in pleasant surroundings. No getting home from work with the thought of a tough ten miles in the dark hanging over him. Within a few weeks his motivation returned, he had lost very little physical condition and he went back to full training with renewed vigour.

Not everyone catches this problem in time and what I want to emphasise here is that we are much better off having a planned break rather than having one enforced upon us by illness or injury , or indeed by completely losing that essential joy of running. It is all too easy to plough on after track has finished but then be forced to stop at the very time when training should be building towards the big cross countries. Not everyone follows the same yearly cycle and clearly if you are aiming say at a big autumn marathon or one of the Great Runs then September is not the time for a low-key few weeks. Just sort out what your priorities are and when they come up and plan an easy period accordingly. And for those who just cannot manage without their daily fix, fear not, “break” need not mean lying in bed all day – in this case a change really can be as good as a rest.

and some more autumn miles.....

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