Devil's Playground

"An idle mind is the devil's playground." I probably heard this in sunday school as a child which is ironic as I rarely paid attention...further reinforcing the phrase as I was sinning in front of god daydreaming about girls or anything other than the message I was supposed to be digesting.

Without a fall marathon, I'm in the middle of my "off season." For someone obsessed with running and triathlons, this is a hard concept to grasp. In the last couple years, I had no "off season" and my body physically suffered from it. Overtraining...injury...bad things. So what do you do during an "off season" when you're not working out or running six days a week?

My eliptical pace
As I've written here, I've used a variety of marathon training plans that have as few as three running days a week (with Furman's FIRST plan) to others that are up to 5-6 days a week. What does the alcoholic do when they're used to drinking four cases of beer in a week and are told to scale that back to a couple of beers a couple times a week?  Devil's playground.

I ran into an old college friend last off season at 24 Hr Fitness who'd heard that I ran marathons. He asked are you training for a race now? "No...I'm in my 'off season,'" I replied. He saw me on an eliptical machine that day going at it like a lumberjack taking on a 16" pine on ESPN (see "really fast.") He shook his head like I was either a giant contradiction or some kind of crack addict...or both.  I'm five weeks away from starting my training for the Boston Marathon. I'm in my (using Joey's quotation fingers from "Friends") "off season."

This week, I'm on the road, and still have the mindset of being in the middle of a training plan.

"What time do I arrive in _________?"
"Do I have a dinner that night?"
"What hotel am I at, and do they have a gym?"
"Is it warm enough to run outside?"
"Did I remember my run shoes?" (Rare that I don't pack them.)
"Do I have a breakfast meeting, or can I squeeze one in the morning?" (East Coast makes this tougher.)

My late night arrival early into Boston

Does this sound like the mind of someone in an "off season?" In the case of this week, I had a connecting flight in Houston enroute to Boston for work. I checked (as I always do) for an earlier connection when I landed in Texas. "Yes! I get in three hours earlier...that opens up more options for a workout," I was thinking.  I had no dinner or business commitments that night, but had a setback arriving to a hotel with no gym. I've had plenty of great hotel gyms and others with rusty parts and busted electronics on treadmills when it was too cold or unsafe to run outside (see dodging dogs and cars in India.)

The front desk clerk at the Marriott gave me the bad news of "no gym," but printed off instructions for two different facilities with a free guest pass with the presentation of a hotel key. I threw my bag in the room and bolted out to nearby Andover, MA for a short four mile heart rate run in a really nice gym. The "bar is set" for "really nice gym" when they hand out towels. This helps the traveling runner along with my string backback that's always in my suitcase with a mini-lock. (#greatrunningtraveltip)

Given all that, I've certainly scaled back the number of days that I run during this down time. I have focused on either keeping up some speed work at much shorter distances (mile repeats or Yasso's,) one day a week and heart rate training (1-2 days a week) at some mid level distances (4-8 miles.) I have also hit the weight machines with Boston's downhill course, Newton Hills, and "Heartbreak Hill" in mind--you got to be strong for that "not for the timid" course. For my core, I have continued to swim 1-2 days a week knowing that I'm seven months away from triathlon season but it will also help build my core.

Outside of that, when I'm not running, I'm thinking about it, or writing about it. I should be wearing an "Adidar" t-shirt (all day I dream about running.) In other words, I have no offseason.  What does your off season look like, or do you have one? Follow my blog with Bloglovin


  1. My offseason started yesterday. I feel happy and ok with it, but a little lost. I'm forcing myself to take it easy (off all this week, next week check out some of those classes at the gym I always am too busy for, run a turkey trot), and then until the new year do only what I feel like doing. Sadly, right now, I'm on a post-marathon high and just want to get back to swim/bike/run but I know I need a break... *twitch* We are all addicts, aren't we? :)

  2. No off-season here, not even for tri training. Of course, living in San Diego has it's blessings. I have cut things back since my half-Ironman, dealing with my daughter's neck break, but will be ramping up again soon I'm sure.


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