A quick google search and you can find a training plan for any single race distance you want.
- 12 Weeks to your fastest half marathon? Check.
- Couch to 5k? Check.
- 4-month marathon training plan? Check.
But what about staying in shape year round? How do we train our bodies to be in shape for the entire year? Keep in mind, running or not, there are many methods to stay in shape for the whole year.
It’s important to know you can’t (and shouldn’t) be in peak form every day of the year, but there are methods to stay in shape.
Personally, I would like to know that I could finish a half marathon on any day of the year. Will I PR? No, but I would like to know I could finish and enjoy myself without spending a month in recovery.
If you want to stay in shape year round, it’s important to choose a few key races throughout the year you would like to PR at. You can run a dozen races each year, but you can’t expect to run a personal best at each.
Here are a few ways to stay in shape throughout the year:
1) Keep running through the year
It seems obvious in writing, but don’t go from full training to goal race, to no running at all! Single race training plans often start at the ground level, peak, and then the program stops. They leave you with a concrete plan to nothing.
So when the program begins at week one, it assumes you have taken full rest or have never run before. If you run a few times a week, you still have a small base. Even though you might not be running as much as when you’re in full training mode, running a quarter of the mileage you regularly run, you still maintain a base.
2) Avoid peak training for the entire year
One thing that is extremely important is avoiding hard and peak training for too long. If you attempt to run high mileage year round, you’ll either get injured or burnt out. Believe me, I’ve been there, and it took 4 months to recover physically and mentally.
3) After goal races, give yourself 1-2 weeks to relax
After each of your goal races, give yourself 1-2 full weeks off to rest. This means, don’t run and do minimal if any working out. You might “really want to” but remember running is lifelong, and resting will allow your body to fully recover to continue to be able to run year round.
Reflecting upon my own personal training, I didn’t take full rest, and it led to my burnout.
4) Incorporate other fitness activities into your weekly plan
Other cardio such as biking, swimming, or strength training will play a huge role in your running. Adding an extra day of cross training can allow you to avoid injury or burnout as well as allowing you to sustain longer training periods. Personally, I’m able to run longer with a full rest day weekly.
5) Train for different race distances
Choose different distances to train for. It will cause your body to work in a variety of ways. For instance, shorter goal races might involve speed work on the track where longer races require distance runs.
This helps with mental burnout as well as changing the stress on your body. Plus, by training for different distances, you might realize you like other distances. It’s more fun to mix it up and train for different distances!
As always, keep in mind running is lifelong. What might seem like a big deal now, such as a week off, isn’t a big deal in the big scheme of things. By mixing it up and not “always being in peak performance”, you’ll be able to train year round.
Hollie Sick is an avid runner who’s completed more than 30 half marathons. Read her blog, or follow her on Facebook.