Planning a break/reduction in Training

  • Creator
  • #52330

    I’ve been finding myself less interested in hard training for a few months now. I’m at the end of another training cycle and planning a break for a period of time. I’m a mountain/ultra runner and I’ve been at 10-15 hours a week of training for at least 20 months with only 1-2 week reductions here and there as I recover or taper for events. There have been a few weeks when I have been well above that 15 hour total as well.

    Besides being “less interested” (which is telling) I find myself drawn to doing some home improvement projects and other “fun” things but I’m simply too tired to have much enthusiasm for when in hard training cycles. So I’m looking for advice in how to schedule an “off season” for a bit to rejuvenate myself and allow me to satisfy that urge to take on some other projects.

    With only one event on the calendar the rest of the year (a 30K mountain run in mid-September with extreme elevation gain/loss that will likely take me in the 4 hour range to finish), I’m trying to plan out a schedule that will allow me to have that off-season period but also give enough time to ramp back up to do well in that race.

    So the main questions I’m looking for suggestions are:

    – what kind of reduction in training is good enough to maintain a base?
    – what training plan duration will be sufficient to get back in good shape by that mid-september event? I’m used to 12-15 week plans for my usual training events

    I really want to bounce back and get interested in training again but I definitely need a break. So I appreciate any guidance on this!

  • Participant
    russes011 on #52339

    There was a free article in Outside Magazine titled: “What’s the Minimum Dose of Training to Stay Fit? A new review assesses what it takes to maintain endurance and strength when circumstances interfere with your usual training.” by Hutchinson that was published online on 3/23/21. You may find it useful.

    briguy on #52358

    Thanks, enjoyed the link. That makes me feel better about the ‘floor’ of what I can do until I feel like I’m bouncing back. I guess I should look at a few months of just base work until I really need to ramp up for that mid-September event. 16 weeks out from race day should be enough provided I maintain some level of base (25-35mpw). That gives me about 2 months of cut back until then.

    russes011 on #52363

    I would even suggest a couple months of transition level training, and not base training per se. I would also substitute other cross training activities for many of your runs to keep things interesting. My impression is that you are a bit overtrained or overreaching with too much base and race build-up without a recent and true offseason. You would have time for about 3 months of transition level training, followed by a 12 week pre-race plan. The body and mind are funny, you may actually perform better after a break. I understand it’s much more complicated than I’m making it out to be, eg how much intensity and or specificity matters, but sometimes allowing performance to drop off actually leads to more improvements in the future.

    Curious to hear what others have to say.

    briguy on #52380

    So what do you mean by transitional training?

    I do some cross-training already, I’d say that 10-15 hours per week I quoted earlier includes probably a third of that as cross training, usually some combination of cycling, elliptical cycling, and uphill treadmill walking. I’m older (49) so my body can’t tolerate too much volume in running alone so I’ve been supplementing with XT for a long time.

    But to the point, yeah I agree and I had planned on upping the cycling a little during this next phase since it’s more easily tolerated and more palatable than running has become lately. Agree too that I am curious about any other opinions/suggestions others might have.

    russes011 on #52382

    By transition training I was just referring to the transition period training that Uphill Athlete uses in their training plans, at least the mountaineering ones. I assume they’re part of running plans too, and is talked about in their books. Basically the ramp up phase prior to the base training phase. I believe in classic periodization the transition period is the ‘off season’, which lasts about 3-5 weeks. Hudson from Run Faster calls it the Intro period.

    briguy on #52385

    Yeah, they call it the Transition Period and it’s on page 269 of the UA book.

    Rachel on #52391

    It sounds like you have it mostly figured out except for how much volume to keep to not lose too much fitness. I usually like to give myself maybe 4-6 weeks off to just do whatever I want and I don’t worry about things like my heart rate. The idea is I’m not doing any training plan whatsoever, in TftNA they call it the Recovery period. Then I start back with a transition period (or you could start your new training plan at that time).

    I was going to mention the Outside article as well. If you are a runner keeping up with some running is a good idea so you don’t lose all those adaptations you have in your tendons, etc. When I’m in my Recovery period I really try to only exercise because I want to. My goal with it besides recovery, of course, is to feel ready and excited to start training again. In the book they say “have fun.”

    briguy on #52421

    Thanks, I think my posting was my (subconscious) method for getting my thoughts in order, plus I just like discussing things with a group. And maybe someone else doing a search on UA will find this post and it will be helpful.

    Rachel – what you described is sort of in line with what I planned, just a do-whatever-I-feel-like period but knowing myself that will still end up being 20-30mpw of running due to group social runs etc. I also have two dogs that would be extremely upset if their running volume got cut away!

    4-6 weeks sounds about right, then I do a type of transition period, then base training and then a race plan ending with that mid-September mountain event.

    Here’s hoping I get my mojo back.

    Anonymous on #53528

    @russes011: Steve, as @briguy alluded to, it sounds like you have some UA reading to do… 🙂

    Yeah, they call it the Transition Period and it’s on page 269 of the UA book.

    : As Rachel said, an unstructured, unmeasured week or two (or more) is a good habit to get into at least once a year, perhaps more often. So long as your active, you shouldn’t lose too much fitness, and it’ll be offset by what you gain in motivation.

    russes011 on #53593

    Always good to re-read stuff–it’s amazing how much different a book can be interpreted based on one’s current mindset or experience in life. Said differently–and I’m referring to myself here–is that when I read a scientific book without much of a foundation in the field I tend to not extract as much information, or the key information, as I could have otherwise. (As a separate example, most of us only read the fiction classic back in high school or college, when they can be much more meaningful to read after a few decades of life experience.)

    PS – I have the Kindle versions of the UA books and they don’t have page numbers!–at least on my laptop app–;)

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