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Leveraging the 'offseason'

Posted by Ty Velde  March 23, 2010 08:04 PM

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As I知 now in the process of training for my ninth consecutive Boston Marathon, I知 often asked, how I知 able to keep it up and come back year after year. While there are many reasons for this, if I think about it, a lot has to do with what I do during the 登ffseason.

For many of us, the offseason starts the moment we cross the finish line, as the 登n season (training and race day) has officially come to a close. You致e spent months training and preparing for Race Day, the race has been run, and so now it痴 time to kick back and relax.

At the same time, because finishing the Boston Marathon is such an amazing and personally inspiring experience, many of us start to think about 渡ext year and running it again. Marathons can be addictive and once you致e run Boston, my guess is that you値l get the itch to return.

If you really want to improve your chances of returning to Boston, you need to use the 登ffseason to your advantage. While we all should rest and take time to recover after race day, one thing I would not recommend if you want to run Boston again, is thinking that training for it is something you do once a year. In my opinion, it痴 something you do all year round. Huh? What I mean here is that after running Boston, you are likely in (or close to) the best shape of your life. Think about it. You致e spent months training and you致e just run 26.2 miles. Is this really the time to just let things go? No way! This is something to be taken advantage of and built upon.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to look at the offseason as a reason to take time off from running, because if you do, more likely than not, when it comes to next year, you池e going to have to start all over again and get back in shape. And that is no easy feat.

If you want to return to Boston, it痴 key to look at the offseason as an opportunity to leverage the fitness you have attained and put together a baseline running program that will enable you to simply just stay in shape. Then when it comes time to start training again in earnest, rather than just getting back in shape, you池e just stepping up your regular program.

While everyone is different, here is how I have approached the offseason over the years, which is a key reason why I have been able to return to Boston year after year.

Regular running workout

While everyone痴 recovery period is different, typically a week or two after crossing the finish line, I look to start back up with my regular runs. For me this is 6.9 mile run around the Charles River that takes about 45 55 minutes to complete. Much slower than my race pace, but relaxing. I do this approximately five times per week. During this time period, I知 not training for anything, but just making sure that I have a regiment in place and I知 running on a regular basis. While your distance may vary from mine, the key is to figure out a good running program, as maintaining this baseline level of activity, is the key to staying in shape.

The fall marathon

While I love Boston, that fact that it occurs in April, means that you have to train during the winter months, and this makes it a bear. Fall marathons are great, as you can train in the summer and fall when the weather is nice. While it can get hot and maybe rain, at least you don稚 have to compete with snow or worry about falling on some black ice.

In choosing a fall marathon, I tend to try look for ones that occur after October 1. The reason for this is that if you manage a Boston qualifying time in a race that occurs after October 1, you can use that time not only for the coming year痴 marathon, but also for the year after that. Therefore, one fall race can get you two Boston entries ... not a bad deal.

This past year, I ran the Toronto Marathon which occurred in mid-October and was fortunate enough to qualify there, so I知 not only set for this year痴 race, but also 2011 as well. While I will definitely plan to run another fall marathon this coming fall, on the off chance I can稚 or I don稚 qualify there, I知 still all set.

Besides Toronto, the following are some other great fall marathon痴 I have run, all of which have occurred after October 1st:

  • Chicago
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Baltimore
  • Marine Corps

This is definitely a short list, so if you are reading this, please feel free to add to this list by posting comments and I will look to update it.

When it comes to training for the fall Marathon, I typically start in mid-July, as I need about three months to prepare. However, since I have been running regularly to this point, it makes the transition to training much easier and ultimately more effective. Then once the fall marathon has concluded I return to my regular running workout, until Mid January, when I start training again for Boston. Ultimately this means that I get into Marathon shape twice a year, which ultimately helps with all I do to prepare for Boston.

In the end, while not everyone is able to run a marathon twice a year, the key here is to figure out a plan that enables you to stay in shape in the offseason. This way, you池e not saddled with the baggage of having to 堵et in shape when it comes to training. How I have leveraged the offseason, in all of the years I have been running marathons, has truly been one of the keys to my success because instead of starting from Level 1 when training starts, I知 more at a Level 5. While training will always be challenging, the fact that you致e used the offseason to your advantage and stayed in shape, will ultimately make training easier and dare I say, a more rewarding experience.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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