Victoria Sekely may not have started officially training for the New York City Marathon until June 2022, but it had been on her mind for the previous two years. Big fitness goals, like completing a marathon, start taking up your time and energy long before the first day of your training plan. So when you finally cross the finish line, and suddenly your calendar isn’t filled with long runs, strength workouts, and a 9 p.m. bedtime, it can feel a little jarring.
For many athletes, the instinct is to immediately chase after the next goal. But Sekely, a physical therapist, run coach, and certified strength and conditioning specialist, took a different approach after her race.
“Running is very important to me; it’s my passion. It’s also part of my job,” she says. “It takes a very big place in my life, but at the same time, if I want it to continue to do that, I need to take some time away from it as well.”
So, she decided to enter into what she affectionately calls her “self-care era.”
She didn’t go on a single run for three weeks, and instead focused on rest, recovery, and all of the things in her life that she’d placed on the backburner during her marathon training. While she doesn’t prescribe that amount of rest for everyone, she does believe that every athlete can benefit from time off.
Why schedule a ‘self-care era’?
Whether you’re a runner or a CrossFitter, if you love being active, the last thing you want is to be injured. But moving from one rigorous training cycle to the next is a fast-track path to the doctor’s office.
“What the off season is really meant to do is to prevent you from going from back-to-back training cycles,” Sekely says. “That can lead to burnout, injury, and fatigue.”
Think of this as part of your training cycle—an important one. Training for something like a marathon puts a significant amount of stress on both your body and your mind. Instituting an off season gives your muscles time to heal and your mind room to …….