Unstructured Speedwork in Offseason

Yesterday was my oldest son’s first Christmas party at school. Parents were invited to sit in for the last 30 minutes of the class while the kids sang Christmas songs and decorated cookies.

AJ class

And then we spent most of the afternoon outside in the snow! I feel like it has already snowed more this year than recent years combined!

ryan snow


Even though I wasn’t sore after Rehoboth, I took almost the whole week off from running and most physical activity. I was (and still am) embracing the off season. It’s been so wonderful to stay up late, watch TV, drink a glass or two of wine with my husband and just enjoy not doing much of anything.  And it’s gone hand in hand with lots of fun, family things that I’ve been able to go to (and stay out late) with zero guilt about missing a workout or getting enough sleep: My youngest sister got engaged and graduated from nursing school and my niece was Mary in her Christmas show. And on a whim last week, I went to the mall with my sister (at 8pm) and then we met up with our other sister for bar food and drinks at 10pm.


There’s been no forced workouts or early wakeups. The thought of following a training plan right now makes my head hurt. There a few days where I woke up and thought about running a few miles…but the desire really wasn’t there…it was more of feeling like I should run rather than actually wanting to run. So I went back to sleep. Multiple days I woke up after 7am. Clearly my body needed the rest and sleep.

Since then, I’ve done mostly easy runs and some unstructured speedwork. I say unstructured because I am not following a training plan nor do I have the intention of hitting a certain pace or even doing a certain workout. In my opinion, the offseason doesn’t mean I can’t do some speedwork. But I want to keep it fun and light.

Last week, I did a progression tempo run. Ok, so technically, it wasn’t really a tempo run since I was pretty far from what my tempo pace should be. But it was my first time doing speedwork in weeks and I wanted to ease back into a faster pace. My plan was really simple – just run each mile a bit faster than the previous mile. And I would stop when I felt like it. No set pace, distance or time.  Just keep running faster. I ran 8 miles at a 7:30 average pace with splits of 8:25, 8:00, 7:47, 7:34, 7:24, 7:13, 6:55, 6:25.

Yesterday I knew I wanted to do a workout that I tried last training cycle and loved – a wave tempo. Seriously one of my favorite workouts. Basically, it’s one mile fast (close to mile repeat pace) followed by one mile not as fast (but still faster than my usual recovery pace). Again, I didn’t have a specific pace I was looking to hit – just going to do it off of feel. 8 miles at a 7:13 average with splits of 8:30 (warmup), 6:44, 7:37, 6:39, 7:37, 6:37, 7:32, 6:31.

These workouts have been fun and have made the time on the treadmill a bit more tolerable. I’m not a huge fan of the treadmill, but I’m even less a fan of cold, icy weather (or running alone in the dark at 5am), so the treadmill wins out fairly often during the winter.

Hope you are having a great week and enjoying the snow!!

Do you do any speedwork in your offseason? Any fun workouts to share?

Treadmill or roads?

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    15 thoughts on “Unstructured Speedwork in Offseason

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      hobbies for girls recently posted..hobbies for girlsMy Profile

      • Crystal, I am so sorry that I did not respond sooner. We have a treadmill in the basement! We purchased it two years ago and honestly, it was one of the best decisions we ever made. Having one in the house makes life 100000x easier!!
        So we have a precor treadmill – and I really, really like it. It’s definitely not a top of the line treadmill but it is considered a really great home treadmill – it’s big and weighs a lot (not one that folds up) so it’s really sturdy.
        There are some great treadmills out there – woodway, proform, etc. I would recommend going to a large exercise equipment retailer and trying a few out. Then it just becomes a question of budget for you guys. I think ours was around 1700 or so – that was after a pretty big sale around Christmas!! =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..New Year, New GoalsMy Profile

    2. I have sadly not done much speedwork because it flares up that ugly injury in my shin and calf. I have decided until that is under control that I need to keep speed work to a minimum. Very Sad because I love speed work!
      I hope you are enjoying your time off and I completely agree that you need to take a break and give the body rest in the off season.
      I love the wave tempo run you did. I am going to have to try and incorporate those more often.
      Lacy @ Running Limit-less recently posted..Merry Christmas!My Profile

    3. When I am in “off season” (It’s typically winter, like now) I love playing around on the treadmill. Progression runs, random intervals, change speed every-time song changes kind of thing. It keeps runs fun and interesting but makes it so I keep some speed-work in (helps me feel less stale speed-wise once training ramps up again)
      Laura @losingrace recently posted..CIM: Race REVIEWMy Profile

    4. While I don’t do speedwork during my offseason I’m in this weird place as 2013 has been the year I went from turtle to faster turtle without doing any speedwork. (LOL! I can’t really explain the speed increase other than I think I was always capable and just holding back) I’m looking to build on that for 2014. So for instance my tempo runs used to be 6 miles at 10:15-10:45 pace. But now that I have a half marathon in the books at a 9:42 pace I realize my tempo runs need to be a minute per mile faster! So I want to work on speeding up those tempos so I can go into my next training cycle ready.

      Road running all the way. I might have been on a treadmill twice in all of 2013. LOL!

      Keep enjoying your family and friends! It’s the perfect gift of the offseason =)
      sally @ sweat out the small stuff recently posted..A few small glimmers in an otherwise craptastic dayMy Profile

    5. I am all for embracing off season :) I’ve seen night times that I haven’t in ages! Holiday parties and being social has been fun, as is sleeping in if I want to. I have also been doing a lot of flywheel classes and actually have not run in 10 days now since my last half! My plan for now is to do shorter speedier runs. I’m not planning to pick up official training any time soon just yet. I have tentatively set in my head my running/cross training/strength schedule though.
      I am all for the treadmill. I HATE being cold. Cannot get on board one bit.
      Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted..Year of Running: 2013My Profile

    6. You’re doing the offseason proud! It really is important to take that time, both mentally and physically. I was the same way the week post-Richmond. Could NOT get out of bed early and so I just did what my body told me to do–sleep!

      I love the wave tempo run like that–they are tough but effective! I usually don’t do much speed in the couple of months between seasons, but keep some strides in for leg turnover. This year, well…. : (
      misszippy1 recently posted..The (running) ghosts of ChristmasMy Profile

    7. Wow it sounds like you are truly enjoying yourself on the off season. Which in all honesty, is that what it’s all about? I don’t really do speed workouts except for races so I guess that’s me just saying I race on the off season and on season. Of course the off season does not get me upset due to lack of PR’s.
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