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What To Do Between Training Cycles

So you have finished one race and have another one on the horizon, but what do you do between training cycles? Join me for Running Coaches Corners Link Up!

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Running Coaches Corner is a weekly Wednesday Link up with your cohosts Lora, Rachel, Debbie, and myself. We are continuing with the theme of summer running! Don’t miss my other Coaches Corner Posts and link ups!

For many, summer running means getting back at training, with “back” being the operative word. A good chunk of those training for a summer race will be coming off of a previous training cycle that might have ended a month or two before. So what should you do between training cycles to relax and unwind, but also to put yourself in position for the best possible summer training cycle? What should you plan for your pre full or half marathon training plan?

The interim time between training cycles can be misleading because you are technically in the off season, but not really because you might only have a few weeks between training cycles. That means that there are some definite do’s and don’t’s for the time between training cycles.

What to Do Between Training Cycles

What should runners do between training cycles? Find out at

Do: Take some time off after your race

You have worked hard, ENJOY THE FRUITS OF YOUR LABOR. Your body needs a break from high impact activity, and likely a bit of lovin.

Don’t: Stop all physical activity

Even in the days after a marathon, I will build activity into my days. From yoga to cross training like spinning or swimming, I keep my body moving to keep my muscles from getting stiff. Think of this like active rest within a training cycle: give you body time off from high impact, but keep moving!

Do: Have some fun with your time off

During a training cycle, your focus is on building for the best possible end result at your race, and there might not be a lot of time (or energy) for extracurricular activities from social events to trying out other new fun hobbies and pursuits. Why not try them out now! Also, this is a great time to get back to that strength training and mobility work and set good habits for the upcoming training cycle.

Don’t: Have too much fun and injure yourself

Remember, you are going to be in training pretty soon, and nobody wants to have to shorten their training cycle because they overdid it during the off season and hurt themselves. You can certainly overtrain in the off season, when you don’t have the careful structure and work/recovery cycles of training!

Do: Start to think about the training cycle ahead

Because it is coming! Get yourself set up with what you can do now to prep for the season ahead. That way you don’t find yourself scrambling at the last moment.

Don’t: Start obsess or start training too early

YOU ARE NOT IN TRAINING YET. That means that, for at least a few weeks, you can wear high heels and pants that don’t have a drawstring waist or proprietary fabric. Underwire might even make an appearance. Remind yourself that you can be a real human being.

Do: Maintain your base

Keep your mileage manageable, but don’t be afraid to keep it a little bit higher than the start of your last training cycle (after appropriate rest).  Remember that whole periodization thing…?

Don’t: Obsess about mileage

If you have a week that is a bit less or a week that is a bit more, don’t worry about it! Just adjust accordingly for the following week! You don’t have to answer to anyone or hit specific long run or mileage totals–enjoy that!

Do: Recover from any burnout from the previous training cycle

Come back to the new training cycle rejuvenated after a good rest, proper recovery, and a fresh outlook. Think back on challenges from the past cycle and consider how you might improve upon them. Did you overcommit yourself and thus end up burned out because of the stress of too much all at once? Or did you have a training plan that left you exhausted, run after run?

Do: Get set up for the next training cycle with the right plan and the right coach!

Summer running season is almost upon us, and I have a few openings left in my client roster. Whether you are training for a big race or just training for life and learning to balance it all, you deserve to have someone in your corner who can help you get the most from the work you put forth. Check out my training page and email me to talk training!

Runners, how do you handle only a few weeks off?

What training cycles are you between?

Do's and Don't's for runners between training cycles #runchat #fitfluential #coachescorner Click To Tweet

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Also linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday with Annmarie from The Fit Foodie Mama, Angelena Marie from Angelena Marie: Happy, Healthy & Balanced, Michelle at Fruition Fitness and Nicole from Fitful Focus.

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  • Reply Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    I have missed my daily Suz updates, but now I am back from Greece I am ready to catch up πŸ™‚
    I think the mistake I always made was having a break from all physical activity in between and it made it so much harder to get back in to it.

    May 18, 2016 at 6:01 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I have missed you! And I’m so excited about the baby πŸ˜€ ANd yes, taking a total break and then having to start back is so, so hard.

      May 20, 2016 at 6:48 pm
  • Reply Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious

    So many good tips! You know obviously I love the one about not getting yourself injured because that seems to be a problem for me. Haha!

    May 18, 2016 at 6:14 am
  • Reply Michael Anderson

    Actually for me it is even simpler – STOP thinking in terms of ‘training cycles’. I see way too many runners who base their ‘running self esteem’ on training cycles, way too many who end up injured again and again and again because of this focus, loads who end up burned out on the whole spending too much money and not even enjoying themselves anymore …

    The core ideal should always be to love this recreational fitness activity – for 99.9999% of us, it is not our job, just an activity. We should love it, share it, and enjoy that we can do this fundamentally solo activity with a group of people. And of course, we *can* decide to push to complete those activities in the fastest possible healthy time … if we want.

    Just a thought πŸ™‚

    May 18, 2016 at 6:27 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think that it all depends on your goals. There is nothing wrong with having a goal and working towards it in a structured manner. That, to me, is a training cycle. In a perfect world, you would be able to complete that training cycle in such a way that doesn’t leave you burned out and broke! A training cycle is a building block. It doesn’t necessarily have to have a race at the end. But no, training cycles as a formalized thing are not necessary for running, but they aren’t a bad thing, either. Everyone has something that works for them!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:47 pm
  • Reply Annmarie

    I think the hardest thing to do after a training cycle is take some time off. Like you said, you don’t want to not do anything but the idea of slowing down to let your body rest can be hard to follow through on!

    May 18, 2016 at 6:41 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It’s hard to realize that taking time off can help you come back even stronger!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:43 pm
  • Reply Sarah

    I totally agree with Michael. I use training cycles pretty rarely for those big races I have a goal for. Otherwise, I’m just in running mode. Right now I am in a bizarre situation where I am taking a week totally off (minus coaching on the course for the Spring 13.1 this weekend) and then it’s back to another marathon cycle for 4 weeks. This should be interesting to see how my body handles it. Fortunately, after having a good race, I can just have fun with this one. Great post!

    May 18, 2016 at 6:51 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I will be really interested to see how things go with this in between and then new training cycle. I bet you will do fabulously though. You body is raring to go!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:42 pm
  • Reply heather @Fitncookies

    I think it’s so important to take time off! I know by the end of a training cycle (to me) I sort of end up not loving running. The few weeks off makes me love it again and want to run. Then I get back out there!

    May 18, 2016 at 7:07 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Everyone goes through ebbs and flows with how they feel during and after a training cycle. It is a good idea to know what to expect!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:41 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner

    I have a tendency to keep signing up for races all year long and not really have defined training cycles. Oops! Something my trainer gets on me for a lot. Thanks for the linkup

    May 18, 2016 at 7:20 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hey, it is hard when we don’t want to give up something that we love! Thank you for linking up!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:40 pm
  • Reply Kimberly G

    These are great tips to have. I’m going to be kind of in-between training cycles before I start marathon training in July.

    May 18, 2016 at 7:20 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It can be hard to know what to do!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:39 pm
  • Reply Lesley

    This is great timing. I don’t have a race scheduled, but I don’t want to stop all activity. I’ve continued my strength training since that’s crucial, but I haven’t run since my race. I may do a couple easy miles this Saturday, and that’ll be two weeks post-race.

    May 18, 2016 at 7:44 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That will be perfect! SO glad to have good timing!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:38 pm
  • Reply Emily @ My Healthyish Life

    Phew I’m relieved to read that I’m doing some things right πŸ™‚ I think the most important aspect of “off season” is to recover (obviously) and form good habits, like regular yoga and strength training. So when training does start, hopefully it will be easier to continue!

    May 18, 2016 at 7:52 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think you will be more than ready!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:38 pm
  • Reply Kat

    Great tips girl! When I played club soccer recovery was always my downfall. We typically had a tournament every weekend or every two weeks, so my legs just never recovered fully. I would still be sore sometimes when going into a tournament. Pair that with an eating disorder and BAM! you’ve got a recipe for zero energy and no production. Recovery would’ve been a good thing for me back then [and still is now!]

    May 18, 2016 at 8:21 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Ooooof I’m so glad that you are doing better, my love.

      May 20, 2016 at 6:37 pm
  • Reply Ellie

    I plan to take 2 weeks off after my marathon, no matter how it goes or if I feel I “raced hard enough”. After 6 months of training, I need a break πŸ™‚ thanks for the tips Suz!

    May 18, 2016 at 8:26 am
  • Reply Suzy

    I’m not sure I’ve ever taken time off after a race. Even after my fifty miler in Whistler, I ran/walked the next day because the ultra community told me it would feel better for my legs to get some blood flow through them rather than just sitting still. If taking time off means I have to avoid racing, then so be it. But at the same time, I don’t run HARD or anything after a race!!! I take it SO easy, just to keep my legs moving a bit. It’s not like I go right into a new training cycle.

    May 18, 2016 at 8:52 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Which is the best way you can handle the situation!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:35 pm
  • Reply Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    Great tips! I think so many people don’t get enough rest in between! It’s good to have a little down time.

    May 18, 2016 at 8:52 am
  • Reply Becki @ Fighting for Wellness

    Awesome, so important to get some rest. I’m always surprised when I meet people who are doing consecutive marathons or big competition events. I certainly get the appeal (and more power to anyone who can pull it off), but I know that I personally need down time after something big so I can recover, prevent injury, and make sure I’m still having fun.

    May 18, 2016 at 9:11 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I totally agree! Doing consecutive marathons can be very tricky, and unless you are practiced, and unless you aren’t racing them, I don’t advise it!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:33 pm
  • Reply Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs

    I love this! It’s written so perfectly and clearly. Great tips!

    May 18, 2016 at 9:33 am
  • Reply lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    Right now I am currently not training for anything but I still try to maintain my mileage. My friend is, so it is always nice to do a long run with him to hold myself accountable.

    May 18, 2016 at 9:51 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is the perfect way to do it!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:30 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    So many good tips! I agree with the ones about mileage – since you’re doing just easy miles, you can play around a bit more and increase them a little!

    May 18, 2016 at 9:52 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      But only as long as you are keeping them easy!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:29 pm
  • Reply Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

    Great post! I like keeping my ‘base’. And I like to be half marathon ready at any time. One thing I learned last year after Chicago is that you don’t have to train for an upcoming race after you just completed one. 6 weeks after Chicago, I ran that amazing half marathon. It was my 2d fastest. And my only long run before it was a 10 miler. That was a huge lesson for me.

    May 18, 2016 at 10:39 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m definitely with you that I like to be half marathon ready. I can’t wait to get back there!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:28 pm
  • Reply Montana @ Pretty Lil Mudder

    I’m really glad I took some time off after my season, but it’s hard to get back into a routine! I ran a few times last week and I’m going to try to run these next few days since I have the time off from my night job. The strength training in the interim was a good idea and kept me in shape for the most part. Great tips here!

    May 18, 2016 at 11:40 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You are definitely still a beast–we will talk son!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:28 pm
  • Reply Caroline @lifeofendurance

    My problem has often been that I am so burned out from training cycles that I take way too much time off (i.e. I sit on my bum, watch marathons of Gilmore Girls, and stay still for hours), so that by the time I get back to the next training cycle, I feel like I’m starting from scratch. I like your tips, I think they will help me with the not being lazy or crazy thing!

    May 18, 2016 at 12:21 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That might me that you have been overdoing it on the training part with scheduling or with the volume of training, and that is bringing you to burnout. Try to find a new way to balance your fitness so that you don’t feel so BLARG after!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:27 pm
  • Reply Beverley @ Born to Sweat

    my problem is that once i’ve accomplished something BIG (the Nike challenge, Tough Mudder) i will just cease working out for like a week. haha cause i feel like i deserve it. i should probably stay active, even if it is yoga or biking around town like you said.

    May 18, 2016 at 12:34 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think you are fine to take time off for a week! That is totally valid!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:24 pm
  • Reply Jen @ Pretty Little Grub

    Great tips Susie. I’m working on this between cycle thing right now and this is helpful.

    May 18, 2016 at 12:50 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hope it is! Seemed like you were doing better this week, though, no?

      May 20, 2016 at 6:23 pm
  • Reply Rachel

    Yep, yep, and yep. I’m somewhere between “I want to go for a run because I’m injured and can’t” and “I want to enjoy my time off because I was on the verge of burnout.” The struggle is real.

    May 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hear you there. Get better first, and then deal with the nonsense.

      May 20, 2016 at 6:23 pm
  • Reply Nicole @ Fitful Focus

    My, what good timing you have! I have a race this weekend and then some time off before fall marathon training kicks into gear. This is just what I need.

    May 18, 2016 at 1:22 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Good luck this weekend!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:22 pm
  • Reply glenneth

    great tips! i am currently taking a break from a 10 week carb cycling and intermittent fasting program. i gave myself a much needed two week break and start again on monday! so important to give yourself and your body a break!

    May 18, 2016 at 2:39 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Definitely! With diet as well as with running–any sort of training.

      May 20, 2016 at 6:22 pm
  • Reply Emily

    You totally got me on all the ‘don’ts’ because they are so many of my temptations. I can be an overly obsessive gal, and I just need to get rid of that especially when it comes to taking breaks in training.

    May 18, 2016 at 4:28 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It also can be hard to switch from training mode to nontraining mode! Don’t be so hard on yourself!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:21 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    I usually end my season without knowing whats next. So Ill take a break from running, then just run easy/for fun for awhile. It definitely helps to know when your next race is so you can plan out your time off appropriately. I think I am itching to get into training again and it’s nice to know I have built a solid base over the past few months!

    May 18, 2016 at 6:41 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You definitely have a great base built up! You are ready to go!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:19 pm
  • Reply Christine @ Run Plant Based

    Great tips, thanks! This can be such a tough thing to balance, I don’t want to get injured, but also not slow down too quickly.

    May 18, 2016 at 7:16 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It really can be a fine line, but you will figure it out with practice.

      May 20, 2016 at 6:18 pm
  • Reply Janelle @ Run With No Regrets

    Great tips! It’s definitely a tough balance sometimes when you’re in that “in-between” phase because you want to relax but not too much! I’ll have to keep these in mind in June and July before marathon training begins!

    May 18, 2016 at 9:42 pm
  • Reply Kristy @ Southern In Law

    These are such great tips! ESPECIALLY finding the balance between fun and injury!

    May 18, 2016 at 11:39 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’ve learned the hard way!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:16 pm
  • Reply jill conyers

    It hasn’t always been the case but now I cherish the [short] time off only because I know the good it is doing for my body.

    May 19, 2016 at 1:36 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      So true–like a rest day!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:16 pm
  • Reply

    As I only really do one 10K race a year, but still do a personal 10K every Saturday, I don’t think I need to take any time off. Certainly if I was doing more than that I absolutely agree with you 100% that you should time time off and enjoy the fruits of your labors! πŸ™‚

    May 19, 2016 at 4:05 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think you are right–you run for a different reason!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:13 pm
  • Reply Christina

    This is great advice! This is my first week “off” after my half and I planned accordingly with a massage, beer brewing session, hair cut, and double date night…. Things I was too busy running to do in the last week’s of training. I’m also itching to run again, so I’m going to do an easy run tomorrow night πŸ™‚

    May 19, 2016 at 8:36 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That sounds like you have it perfectly figured out.

      May 20, 2016 at 6:10 pm
  • Reply Sandra Laflamme

    I love all of these tips as this is what I have been living right now! Love the tip about not doing something to injure yourself. IT is the worst when you injure yourself doing something that isn’t your main sport!

    May 19, 2016 at 8:52 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Seriously. That is what happened to me (in a since) with my tibial stress reaction–I was doing a workout in unsupportive shoes. live and learn!

      May 20, 2016 at 6:09 pm
  • Reply Running Links [05/22/2016] – Eat Run Pavement

    […] What To Do Between Training CyclesΒ via Suzlyfe […]

    May 22, 2016 at 4:01 am
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    […] //Stuck in that in between? What to do between training cycles […]

    May 24, 2016 at 4:40 am
  • Reply Kaella On The Run

    GREAT tips!!! I’ve been trying to do all of these (especially the heels haha!!) Can’t WAIT to start training again though. Man, do I ever need structure LOL #typeA

    May 24, 2016 at 11:50 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You shall get it very very soon!

      May 25, 2016 at 9:50 am

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