One of the most difficult things during the off-period season has been to learn to run at a very relaxed pace. I am still learning. It was not until I got my Suunto t3d heart rate monitor in November, that I have been able to monitor my running in more detail. What I consider easy running, my heart rate and Suunto monitor tell me differently. To keep the heart rate below 140 bpm throughout the runs has been challenging as running at that pace feels unnatural. My coach keeps telling me to take it easy as it is highly important to bring the intensity down during this period. The body and mind need to come down from the previous season’s training. It is highly important for further development that full recovery takes place. He keeps telling that I need to let my body and mind go through total relaxation as the time will come again when training gets hard and the cycle is filled with tempo, fartlek and intervals. I must say though, I do look forward to it, which I suppose is not such a bad thing.

Racing is now in the past

Racing is now in the past

The coach keeps telling me that the longish runs with a heart rate below 140 pbm are extremely beneficial and an important component in the preparation for the coming season. I keep reminding myself of that even though I feel very tempted to increase the tempo during my runs. I feel that I am losing my ability to run fast. And being a woman, worried about the body going pear shaped after all the hard work done during the training season. While “jogging” along the running routes breathing as would while watching TV, I keep thinking if I ever will be able to increase the intensity without dying when that time comes again.

I suppose the off-period training could not have been better placed. Timing was actually perfect. Winter in this part of the world can be very cold, roads icy accompanied with lots of snow. One has to adapt to thick clothing and a very different running style – call it a winter shuffle or penguin running. Most suitable for slow running! Layers upon layers of clothes with winter shuffle, and I am glad I am not doing intervals. And of course, in this part of the world running shoes can always be changed into cross country skies this time of the year. This sport is known for its benefits to develop aerobic capacity, more so than running, which is the main purpose of the off-period training I have been told.

Well, it is all a learning process. This is my first ever off-period season and therefore I am sure, it will be wise to listen to those more experienced. I am pretty confident I will be thanking them for making me to take it easy once the going gets tought again. I look forward to starting the next season refreshed with full of energy and enthusiasm. However, taking it easy is not necessarily easy, and I think this is a fault of many of us runners. We feel that there will be no true benefit from easy running. But, the body needs its rest and so does the mind.  The more I think about it the more it makes sense. Of course!  I will make most of the off-season. I will enjoy the easy runs and the beautiful winter scenery around me. I will enjoy the sound of snow creaking under my running shoes and enjoy the feeling of not having to run every day and making most of the possibility of taking a day off here and there. I will do my best to enjoy the extreme freshness of the cold winter air and collect some of that freshness into the reservoirs for summer.

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