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  • Ollie McCarthy

The Off Season Diaries- Building Blocks


The idea of an off season is something that most sports will incorporate into their year. Usually there is a competitive season or period followed by an uncompetitive period.

For most runners the October to April period is fairly free of big events so it’s a good time to

For this uncompetitive period there is an opportunity to improve areas of your sport that may be weaker than others. Or take time to work on a style of training that will have a carry over to the sport sometimes indirectly.

Typical examples will be rugby players using an off season to get stronger and gain muscle. Or potentially use this period to work on certain skills.

For runners the winter is a great opportunity to work on areas that they may not be that good at. A glaringly obvious area for most runners is strength and mobility. Being able to hold a stronger position while running and mitigate injury in the competitive season when the running volume increases.

For me, it’s the polar opposite. Strength has been something I have worked on for 15+ years in some respect. So for me the main bulk of my work is going to be the other end of the scale.

Will I be strength training? Of course. I enjoy it, the effect it has on my body and it will continue to benefit my running.

However the focus will very much be on the sport I am going to be doing. So my main focus will be running. In particular building my aerobic base. So most of my runs will be longer, slower paced with 1 speed session a week to keep that side of things ticking over.

Below is my rough schedule for the week.

Monday- AM workout, PM run club

Tuesday- Rest

Wednesday- Longer run

Thursday- Hybrid session (speed work and bodyweight strength)

Friday- Low volume strength work

Saturday- Rest

Sunday- Long run

Usually I don’t train twice a day but Mondays I have time for my main strength session plus I run a running club as part of my work (so am getting paid to run- winning.) Tuesdays I am super busy so take as a rest. Wednesdays I have more time off so can squeeze in a longer run.

Thursdays I usually have a longer gap in the afternoon so have a mixed session. Speed work combined with some bodyweight strength in my “rest periods.” The amount of work I do will be dictated on feel and what else I have done this week.

Friday I have a very low volume strength session that can be missed if needed.

Saturday is a rest and Sunday is a longer run although I can be fairly fluid with which day is which.

The week never goes exactly to plan so rather than “having” to do everything there are key parts I always make sure are done- 1 “key” strength session, the run club (I have to do this tbf), a variation of the speed work and 1 longer run. Sounds like a lot but in reality I spend 6 days a week in the gym so don’t really have an excuse.

I will run this up to xmas and see where I am at after that. I have one event in November which is a 34 mile ultra but to be honest I am treating that more as a “fun event” rather than something compeititve.

In the next month leading into that and towards December I will also try and bring my weight down slightly. It’s hard finding the balance between having enough fuel to recover from a fairly high volume of training and reduce bodyweight. However post marathon I am carrying some excess fat so leading into the holiday season and towards the ultra it will be good to be a tad leaner.

Looking forward to seeing what the next few months bring training wise.


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