The off-season: 11 top tips for things to do during enforced rest

This post originally appeared on Ben’s old blog, Running From the Physio.

After the Great West Run in October, I always planned to let my body have a bit of a rest. In fact, I was basically prepared to give it the rest of October and all of November. Now, admittedly, this wasn’t complete rest. Just dropping down to a comfortable three runs a week, totalling about 12-15 miles. Apparently though, my body didn’t appreciate the efforts I was going to, and took matters into its own hands. Or more accurately, lungs.

Which left me with more time on my hands than I expected to have. So here are my 11 top tips for things to do during the off-season.*

  1) Book races
Okay, so I might be ill now, but that’s no reason not to book out the whole of January, February and March with races right? I joked to a friend yesterday that my “long-term planner” is actually just my race diary. It wasn’t actually a joke. I don’t race as regularly as many, but I’ve got three races definitely booked, and another four pencilled in. Just in the first three months of next year. Oops.

  2) Buy winter kit
That first day that you step out the door and think “by jove, it’s cold” (or however your mental voice would phrase it) is the time to stock up on winter running gear. I’ve been pretty good this year, and only picked up a couple of things so far: an extra hi-viz t-shirt, and a compression top that matches my running club vest. Because, you know, I don’t want to clash.

  3) Sort running kit drawer
While we’re on the topic of the kit, is it really still necessary to have four different vests in the drawer? Now that it’s cold I’m surely going to do clothes washing often enough to only need a couple of those right? And where did I hide those gloves away? And what is that?

Okay. I haven’t actually sorted it yet. I keep looking at it
and then finding something else to do. Can’t think why.

  4) Watch a box-set / complete a video game / read a trilogy
Remember that box-set you got for Christmas, but never managed to watch because you were out running? Now you can watch all 24 episodes! Or that video game you started, but then just sort of… forgot about. Or that trilogy that looks really good, but you’re worried that if you don’t read them quickly, you’ll forget who all the characters are. Seriously, I’ve completed about 25% of Grand Theft Auto during this “rest”, and that isn’t a small game.

  5) Volunteer at parkrun
If you can’t run… volunteer! I don’t think that slogan will catch on. Also, it turns out that if you go and volunteer on a cold day with horizontal driving rain, and a chest infection, you then develop a fever to go with it. I don’t recommend the pair, individually or paired up. So, if you’re resting due to illness, maybe skip this idea.

6) Read everybody else’s blogs and get jealous
Actually, now that I think about it, this one isn’t ideal. I mean, it’s great to be able to catch up with what you’re all doing and stuff. But seriously people, why don’t you all take a couple of weeks off too, just to make sure that I don’t get jealous. Thank you.

  7) Write a training plan
New season: new plan. In my case, the new plan is basically the same as the old plan, but with two extra runs added in, and a longer long run. I’m hoping that nobody notices that both of the extra runs have been added on the same day. I’m sure mentioning it won’t make it any more obvious. Ho hum.

On the back of an envelope, obviously.
  8) Write your Christmas list
This probably only works if you’re reading this roughly when it is published. If you’re catching up, or randomly found this on Google and it’s February, maybe give it a miss. But otherwise, start scribbling that list down: new trainers, new Garmin, that swanky Nike top with the thumb-holes in the sleeves…

  9) Eat
Because it’s a proven fact that the next best thing to running is eating. Try out some new recipes: plenty of those that took too long to consider when you had to factor a run in are now perfectly do-able. Of course, you might need to think about going for slightly less calorific options, but that just adds another challenge into the cooking, and might expand your repertoire! Me – I’m thinking Chocolate Fondant and a couple of new curries. Not together. Probably.

Sadly, this is not one I’ve made. Hopefully mine will
look this ace though. (credit: RobinCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

  10) Polish and sort medals
So, they’ve been hung up on the wall for a while now. They could probably do with a dust and polish. Now that I look at them, the display is a little imbalanced too: all the long ones are on one side, which looks a bit odd. But if I move that one over, the colours will clash. This could take a while.

  11) Rest
Oh yeah, I sort of forgot about this one, but I think it’s pretty important. Rest. Whether enforced or not, let the body have a bit of a break so that any ongoing niggles can sort themselves out and you’ll be fit and raring to go for the next season .. next week .. tomorrow.

So there you go, 11 things to keep you going when you’re not running. I’m sure I’ve missed some important things out though, what do you do to stay occupied and reasonably sane during some down-time from running? Do you just go crazy?

* By “top” I mean, the first ones I thought of. And by “tips” I don’t mean suggestions. Actually, they’re just “things”.

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