I love my off season. It usually starts the week after the Disney Marathon weekend and depending on my first race of the year may extend through April. My off season started a little later this year as I did another race the week after WDW Marathon Weekend out at Disneyland…oh yes, it was awesome!
The off season is a time to work on other aspects of fitness so I can improve for the coming year. An off season is crucial to overall fitness, helps alleviate burnout, allows for recovery from any nagging injuries from the previous season, but more importantly, allows for your running muscles to be worked in a different way and helps you enjoy your run even more.
The last six weeks I’ve been focusing on strength work and I’ve made some gains in the gym. I lift four days a week with a rest day on Wednesday. The focus is muscular strength. Muscular strength is the ability of a muscle group to develop maximal contractile force against a resistance in a single contraction. Put more simply, it’s the heaviest weight you can lift in good form, one time. Traditionally, you hear some folks talk about their bench press max or their squat max or maybe even their dead lift max…there are other lifts, but you get the picture. I do a four day split to focus on Chest & Triceps, Back & Biceps, Legs, and Shoulders, Traps & Core.
During my race season I still lift, but I lift for muscular endurance. Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle group to exert submaximal force for extended periods. Again, put more simply, it’s the number of times you can lift a weight that is less than your 1-rep max. It’s all relative to the person, but having some level of muscular strength and muscular endurance is important to overall fitness and important to helping you perform better as a runner.
Runners who work both muscular endurance and muscular strength are less injury prone, faster, can tackle a more diverse terrain, and recover faster than a runner who focuses solely on “just running more.”
So, with the that being said, I am ready to move on to the next phase of training which includes increasing my weekly mileage and working on muscular endurance. Game on!