By Andy Jones-Wilkins
CTS Ultramarathon Coach
For most ultra runners the arrival of autumn signals the end of a long season. Perhaps the season has been culminated by a triumphant race finish or the end of an exhausting training cycle. Whatever the cause, the end of season means the sensible runner looks back and forward in an attempt to make next year even better than this year.
To help in the process I have created a list of the 5 things runners need to do this fall:
Reflect to renew
Assuming the past few months have been occupied by racing and training, fall is the time to slow down and reflect on the past. Think back to the training blocks where things just clicked, the races that went well, and those that went not so well. In short, be deliberate in taking some reflection time and ask yourself what have you learned? What can you still learn?
Articulate and celebrate your strengths
In the midst of reflecting use the data you create to articulate your strengths based on the past year of training. Take note of what areas of your running have gone well, given you joy, and been successful. We’re your uphills better this year? Did you exorcise the sour stomach demons? Have you figured out the key to blister free running? Then, armed with clarity about what you are good at proceed to step three.
Accept and acknowledge your weaknesses
Certainly, while there were things that undoubtedly went well, there were also likely moments of weakness and despair in the past year. Times when the training and motivation wavered and perhaps even the desire to continue was challenged. Did you have a dnf this year? If so, accept it and move on. Did you have life events that undermined your ability to stay focused? Admit those too and move on. Whatever your weaknesses are you’ll be stronger and more resilient next time if you know what they are and are prepared for them when they rear their ugly heads.
Plan ahead, just not too specifically
Many runners I know spend the fall perusing ultrasignup looking for their next race and that is just fine. Planning for the future makes the running that much more enjoyable. Just don’t obsess too much about next years plan. Stay in the moment while looking ahead and think about how you can take the past few months of running as a springboard to future success.
Stay active but be creative
While the fall (and winter) is a time for rest you should also use the time to stay active, maybe cross train a bit and try some different routes. Spend a little time hiking, experimenting with trekking poles perhaps or just getting out of your comfort zone without stressing your body. Periods of unstructured training can be wonderfully rejuvenating if you let them and the fall is a great time to let the trail come to you. The best way to avoid detraining too much on the off-season is to honor the 30% rule. While you may be decreasing volume and intensity over these down months be sure to try not to decrease any more than 30% in any particular area.
And there you have it! The five key things to do this fall. Good luck everyone and enjoy as the new season will be upon us in no time.