How To Stay Motivated During The Off-Season
Briana Ottinger

My last race of the season is just a few days away, and I started thinking about what I’m going to do with all this free time. My first race will be the Scottsdale Giant Race on March 4, 2017. A lot of you are probably wondering how to stay motivated when the next race is months away, the weather is cooler, and the days are getting shorter. When you spend months training for a big race or working towards a goal it can be tempting to take a few weeks or months off after the big day. I encourage you to take a few days off after a big race, there are several things you can do to stay motivated and even improve your performance next year.

Reflect and Set New Goals

Reflect on your race performances from this past year and ask yourself what went well and what could be improved upon. Be honest with yourself, how you felt before, during and after each race. Did you meet or exceed the goals you set for yourself? If you did not meet your goals maybe its time to reassess why you run? Think about what motivates you? Use this information to set new goals for yourself for 2017. Write down your goals on a sticky note or 3 and place them around the house where you’ll see them often. Goals could be moving up in distance or to set a new personal best for the 5k. It’s also a good idea to map out a schedule of races for 2017 and to start mapping out training and travel plans.

Find A New (Active) Hobby

If you’re burnt out or nursing a nagging injury, winter is a great time to try a new yoga class, hike the trails with family or take up a new sport, like snowboarding. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Including at least one or two easy runs a week will go a long way towards keeping up your muscle memory when training picks up again for your next event.

Clean Up Your Diet

I know I personally tend to justify an order of French fries or the occasional cookie because of a long run. The off-season is a time I try to be really conscious of what I’m eating, especially if my workouts aren’t as intense. Pick up a new cookbook from the library, try some of those Pinterest recipes, explore farmers markets and bake up some healthy treats with friends and family. If your training level and intensity decreases you may need to adjust your caloric intake to avoid a few unwanted winter pounds. Talk over any specific concerns or deficiencies with your physician or a registered dietician.

Reassess Your Health

Now’s a great time to check in with your doc to address any nagging injuries or issues you may have had this season. It’s also a great time to schedule a yearly exam and possibly a blood test. I suggest you discuss your goals with your doctor especially if you plan to significantly increase your distance in the next year, such as moving up to a half marathon or marathon. It’s also a good time to discuss any imbalances in form, find a chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist or run coach.

Work On Your Speed

Winter is a great time to hit the track and work on your run speed. Join a running group or track club or look online for plans. Running magazines are a great place to start and your favorite shoe company may even offer plans or coaching advice on their website. Gradually build up the length and frequency of sets, allowing plenty of rest between sessions.

Get stronger

Strength training is the first workout I drop if I’m short on time, and over time this can greatly affect your performance. Use the extra time to get back in the weight room, try a CrossFit or TRX class and add a few pushups or squats to your weekly routine. Strength training can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and can increase bone density over time. Weight training combined with cardio exercise can also help maintain a healthy weight. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at the gym if you’re having trouble navigating the machines or not sure where to start with weights.


And Finally It’s Ok To Netflix And Chill

Catch up on all your favorite shows stored on the DVR, spend a weekend binge watching Stranger Things (I’m obsessed) or take a relaxing getaway. A weekend or two of doing absolutely nothing is good for the soul and body.

What are you doing to stay motivated this winter? I hope to see all of you at the start line for the 2017 Scottsdale Giant Race! If you can’t make it to Scottsdale next year, you can still toe the line with the all-new Virtual Race option!

- Briana Ottinger , @ swimbikerunbri
The Starting Nine

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