Dr. Jennifer Spitzer Jones is a chiropractor and local running coach. She is a former Division I Track and Field athlete and currently competes in triathlon.
The offseason for a runner can be a crucial part of the training cycle. After a year of training hard and racing hard, finally having some unstructured time on your hands can be make or break for some athletes. Ideally, the offseason should be a great time to step away from the high mileage, work in some cross training and prepare for the upcoming season.

The Ideal Offseason

So what is ideal for the offseason? The first thing I recommend doing is taking one week off from activity. Not only does your body need a physical break at this point, but a break from “the routine” is probably needed by now too. The physical and emotional demands of trying to balance training, a full time job, family and a social life can take its toll after a year. Take the week off. Go to the movies or get lunch with friends – do something that you normally wouldn’t make time for in your busy life. One week off will not significantly affect your fitness level. After one week off, I typically get back into a routine of working out 5-6 days per week, but with some other forms of activity. Maybe go swimming, or take a yoga class. Something that isn’t your typical workout, but still gets your heart rate up. By the third week you are ready (and eager) to resume running.

Now that you are back into running, although not doing nearly as much mileage as you would in the peak of your season, it’s a great time to work on the little things to make you a better runner. Because you won’t be going out and hammering a 20 miler on the weekend, you’ll have more time to work on things like your mobility and stability (things that probably get put on the back burner during your season).

What exactly are mobility and stability? Mobility is the ability to move or to be moved freely and easily. Usually when we talk about mobility, we are usually referring to joints. Often times, runners lack mobility in the hips and/or ankles. Stability is the capacity of the body to maintain equilibrium despite outside forces acting on it. Or when you are running, the ability to maintain good form despite fatigue, uneven surfaces or impact from the ground. Usually, runner’s need to work on building a more stable core. Utilizing your extra free time to hit the weight room is ideal this time of year – check out Pursuit Performance in Rochester, NY if you are looking for more structure in your strength training.

The offseason is a great opportunity to not get injured. Let me repeat that… NOT get injured. While the lack of structure is great for some, for others it may lead to erratic changes in mileage, ‘random’ hard efforts and changes in diet. Things to consider at all times of the year include: running on even and soft surfaces when possible, wearing proper footwear (Rochester Running Company and Medved are both great options in the Rochester area), increasing mileage appropriately, incorporating a rest day and/or cross training, maintaining a healthy diet and staying hydrated.

Above and beyond all that has been mentioned, the offseason is a great time to get that nagging tension in your IT band or Achilles tendon worked out, before it manifests as pain. Now is the time to get that functional movement screen or running analysis that you have been thinking about getting done. Addressing imbalances with corrective measures like Active Release Technique or Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation (commonly known as Graston) can be valuable in preventing or correcting injuries, helping to improve your running posture and making you a more efficient runner. Correct those things now before the season starts so you don’t end up derailing one week before your ‘A race’.

With all those things in mind, keep it fun! Happy running! – Dr. Spitzer

Want More Information?

Dr. Spitzer will be leading a workshop on improving running form to reduce injury at Athleta in Eastview Mall on January 20, 2019. Stay tuned for more details!

For more information on preventing running injuries or to get started with treatment if you do encounter a setback, please reach out to me at HealthSource Chiropractic, PLLC, (585)-225-6430 or check out our website at www.healthsourcechiropractic.com.