Off season – when/how long?

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    I watched a video a couple days ago that has made me rethink my longer-term goals. They guy was talking about only doing a few marathons a year, a couple in the early season and a couple in the late, if you are shooting for peak performance. He said that training needs to be periodic because that is how our bodies adapt best over time. I have read the same in the UA book, but I haven’t really integrated that strategy into my plan. I started running seriously when the pandemic started, and I have been trying to push myself faster and further for about two years now. I haven’t taken more than a week off from running. I suppose I am scared that if I back away too much, it will be hard to come back. I don’t put much faith in the graphs from various apps, but they do show that my fitness level has consistently declined from last summer even though I am going faster an farther than I was a year ago. The record heat this summer has really challenged me as well. Running is turning into more of a chore, and I have started having a very hard time obeying the alarm to get out early before the heat the last few weeks. I am not competitive; I just like to see what I am capable of. On the other hand, since I started on this running journey, I’d like to keep doing it for as many years as my body will allow.

    I am taking vacation late in September, and I intend to keep training up to that point and bag a bunch of miles and vertical while I’m off work (this is my A event for the year, and I want to keep it fun). Fall is my favorite time of year to run, but it is also a convenient time to take a break around the holidays.

    How do other folks integrate an “off season”? How much volume do you do compared to your training volume? Shooting from the hip, I am thinking a bit of regular running volume and as much cycling as I feel like. How long do you back away from serious or specific training? How many times a year should this be done (I assume once a year)?

    I am hoping a well-planned break will give me the right mindset to tackle something challenging in the spring/early summer next year. Thanks for any feedback!

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