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Why Off-Seasons Are Necessary For Runner Recovery

“Winter Is A Season Of Recovery And Preparation”

While endurance training likely wasn’t at the top of novelist Paul Theroux’s mind when he wrote these words, they certainly apply to runners of every stripe. Winter is often a time to recover from the previous season and prepare for the next. This time of rest, renewal and planning for the future is referred to as the off-season.

Of course this season doesn’t have to necessarily occur in the winter months, but that’s the way it works out for many athletes. Whether you’ve just spent eight weeks preparing for a 5K or the entire summer gearing up for a fall marathon, the off-season plays a key role in ensuring the health and success of subsequent seasons.

Gloria Petruzzelli, a clinical sports psychologist and runner, explains that even the top elites take time away from training each year, expecting and accepting that they won’t be in peak shape year-round.

“Our bodies and minds were made for homeostasis—constantly being ‘on’ leads to increased stress, which is the main contributor to mental and physical burnout and, more specifically, injury,” she explains. “Taking an off-season helps to manage stress and prevent a cascade of other issues that could negatively impact your life and can also be a productive time to reevaluate what went well over the past season and what areas you might improve upon to reach future goals.”

Related: Why Some Time Off From Training Is A Good Thing

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