Off-Season Epiphany

In the past I’ve never really done specific speedwork. Sure, I’ve thrown in periodic fartleks as I felt like running faster or if I was bored on a run. Or when the garbage truck is approaching my house and I realize I haven’t put the trash out yet. But all the formulas of different tempo runs, repeats, etc. have not been something I’ve really incorporated much. I’ve gotten a little faster naturally just from time spent running.

So this year I decided I was going to make an effort to do real speedwork. I plotted out mile repeats, and tempo runs, and 800’s… I was so proud of my training schedule and full of excitement to do the work and reap the rewards.

The stupid side of this was I made this plan in June. And in case you need a refresher… I live in Las Vegas. So as the weather was moving into a record-streak of 100+ days, several nights that never got below 90 degrees, when daylight hours were long… I had the bright idea to try pushing myself a lot harder.

I won’t bore or disgust you with the number of workouts I’ve ended this summer feeling sick. Or the number I’ve had to cut short due to digestion troubles. Or the times I’ve hit the wall and felt like curling into a fetal position on the side of the road. But the basic lesson learned was something that I knew logically, just didn’t apply to myself!

Everybody needs an off-season!

A lot of people use the winter as a time to just maintain a level of fitness before trying to ramp it up in the warmer months. I just need to be smart and recognize that the summer months are NOT the time to make new strides (ha… strides… another form of speedwork!) in my running as much as it is to just work on maintaining my fitness.

I don’t know why I wasn’t smarter than this, but often we are really dumb when it comes to coaching ourselves… we put on the blinders when it comes to a lot of the standard rules we know work. But Alissa wrote on her blog about surviving the summer in the Arizona heat and it was almost like the post reached out and smacked me across the face.

HELLO! Pay attention and cut yourself some slack, Jill!!! If it’s 110 outside and you feel like you’re about ready to puke after an easy warm-up, it’s not bad that you decided to skip the tempo run… it’s actually self-preservation.

So for the next several weeks I’m in maintenance mode… I’ll start to throw in some speedwork in October or something like that. I’m giving myself permission to take this approach… and I’m telling all of you to hold me to this declaration in case I start to whine about being a wimp if I skip a workout!


  1. I’m glad my post struck a chord with you Jill. I know you are running a lot this summer and have often wondered how you are able to do it in the heat. I thought maybe you just had a higher heat tolerance than me! I’m glad you are cutting yourself some slack. It won’t be long now and we’ll have our mornings back. In about a month you can kick it into high gear if you want. Until then, enjoy the extra time and energy!

  2. I look at our summer’s like everyone else’s winters. Unless you are a complete nut, you kind of have to hunker down indoors and make the best of it. I think summer is the perfect time to practice yoga, use the treadmill, go to the gym, whatever! Soon we will be loving it while everyone else is stuck indoors or freezing their bums off outside.

    • I have been really lax about practicing yoga this summer too… so sad because it really is a great time to focus on that. My muscles are feeling the lack of yoga too!

  3. Yeah I do not know how so many people have a “summer of speed”. I am all about a double off-season: summer AND winter ๐Ÿ™‚ That leaves me with 2-3montha/year of mild weather lol.

    Enjoy being easy on yourself! Only a month or so of the extreme temps?

  4. I tend to find August as my off-season – it’s just too freaking hot and humid here, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good that you are seeing self-preservation as the better choice than pushing yourself in that heat.

  5. I couldn’t agree more! If I had my way, I’d basically go run a 10K three or four times a week, all year round, without fail, without breaks. Turns out, one off day from all activity is only helpful when you also work in maintenance weeks every month or so, and maintenance months every year or so. Great postโ€”and great job recognizing the importance of downtime between training cycles!

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