Off Season Running Nutrition Tips
- April 5, 2020
- Last Updated: March 2, 2022
- 9 Comments
This post about off season running nutrition tips explains how to handle race cancellations and the off season so you can be ready and motivated for your next race!
This post is written in partnership with the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon. While I will not be running the race this fall, I did run it last fall and loved every second of it.
I know it’s a huge bummer to think about all the effort you’ve put into training, only to deal with race cancellations. You have every right to be mad, sad, angry, disappointed, and feel whatever feelings you need to.
Hopefully, this post will cheer you up, as I have a race giveaway at the end of it!
When I saw the 2020 Boston Marathon and NYC Marathons were canceled, I knew this was a serious thing and other races would be following suit.
Many of my clients feel “stuck” right now since there are no impending races to train for. They’re used to some structure, and it’s weird to feel the uncertainty that we all feel right now.However, I see many opportunities now for runners that can make a difference in your fall race plans and training. Not only by building a base, but also a strong foundation for other parts of training that usually get ignored or swept under the rug.
Here are some things to focus on right now.
Your Nutrition Plan
When I say nutrition plan, I don’t necessarily mean what you’re eating on a day to day basis. We know things look very different right now (have you seen these pantry staples for runners)?
But, I more so mean your sports food-specific nutrition plan. The nutrition foods you plan to eat on race day and leading up to race day. This post about nutrition tips for marathon runners in the off season goes into more depth!
If you want some assistance in understanding sports foods, I have an easy comparison guide on my site that compares the 15+ popular gels/blocks and sports drinks in terms of carbs, sodium, sugars, and races you can find them at to save you the time of researching them.
And these 5 easy race day tips for fueling.
What you should practice is what fuel works best for you.
Questions to ask yourself,
- Are you a salty sweater? If so, how are you replenishing your extra need for electrolytes?
- Do you have gut issues when running? What modifications are you making in your diet?
- Are you drinking enough water throughout the day and after a run?
- Are you getting enough iron?
- Are you taking in 30-60 grams (up to 90 grams/carbs) per hour?
- Are you eating enough carbohydrates leading up to your long run?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” now is the time to practice! I highly recommend working 1-1 with a sports dietitian (I offer virtual services).
Or, if you prefer more of a self-paced course that you can always have access to and go back to, check out our Nail Your Nutrition Endurance Fueling Course.
Take this time to devote attention to any nagging injuries you’ve been having. Maybe you don’t stretch well enough after run, or you’ve been meaning to foam roll your calves which are constantly sore.
Maybe that means working on foam rolling for runners knee, if you have constant issues.
You have the time to do so now. I really love this foam roller because it has divets to help really reach the touch spots. If you have plantar fasciitis or need some work on the bottom of your feet, these balls are great and this stick helps with deeper tissue.
I’ve also heard that some physical therapists offer virtual physical therapy so that may be an option to look into!
Cross Training and Working Different Muscle Groups
Along with rehabilitation, now is the time to work different muscle groups. Get stronger to make your running faster and more efficient. Work on core and leg strength.
I know the Detroit Free Press/TFC Bank Marathon is offering free virtual workouts that you can join!
Do planks and work on upper body strength too.
There are tons of online workouts that are free and accessible right now so take advantage of them!
Run For Feeling, Not Pace or Distance
If you do choose to run, you can also just run for feeling vs time or distance. This helps bring some intuition back to running and I think it’s powerful for even veteran runners to do occasionally.
Plus, it can bring joy into running to take some of the pressure away. Find a new trail or some outdoor scenery and fresh air and just run. Put on a podcast or just enjoy the solace and silence.
There’s something very powerful and meditative about nature right now.
Tune Into Your Hunger
Now is not the time to restrict or drastically change your eating. While you may not be training as much and therefore may not need as much food, now is not the time to fall into patterns of restriction or disordered eating.
Try to listen to new hunger cues you may not be attuned with yet, like:
- feeling lightheaded or weak
- feeling cold
- not being able to think about anything but food
- growling or gnawing stomach
This hunger resource may help too!
Find Recipes You Like Now To Make During Busy Training Seasons
Now is the time to load up on easy recipes you like! Figure out which ones are convenient and work with your lifestyle so when time is scarce during training peaks, you’ll have them to resort to.
This roundup has plenty of ideas for easy recipes during marathon training.
- Plan for a fall race – Sometimes, the excitement of training for a new race (in a new city or destination) is all you need to shove the blues away! Registration is open for the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon and you can enter below for the chance to win a free entry!
- Try something new – Now is the time to try a new sport or activity. Have you been wanting to get into triathlons but never made the time? Get a bike trainer and start biking at home!
- Try a virtual race – Many races, including the DC Cherry Blossom I was scheduled to do, are offering virtual race options. Could be a cool opportunity to still “compete!”
For your chance to win a free entry to the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon, enter below! The giveaway is open until next Sunday. The giveaway is not open to EU residents due to data laws.
So excited to train for a fall marathon! Especially looking forward to focusing more on nutrition this cycle and seeing how it impacts my training!
Awesome list of resources! Definitely will come in handy! I’m training for the full Detroit marathon!
I have never been to Canada, and know that running would the perfect way to experience the country! The race is also on my birthday weekend, which would be an awesome celebration of life 🙂
It was a bummer to have my spring race cancelled.. but I really am excited to now have the extra time for strength building and easy runs now! But it’ll be good to get a fall marathon on the schedule!
The “Comparison Guide” is excellent, Sarah – much appreciated!
I ran it in 2019 and it’s such a fun race (going into Canada and then back) and over the bridge. I hope to BQ.
I am hoping to run Detroit for the third year in a row but my first full marathon. It was also my first half two years ago, last year I ran the US only, and this year I think I should go for the full. I want to do it to honor my dad, who I lost to pancreatic cancer 15 years ago, and by running for Game on Cancer again, to raise money for current patients.
I was shocked when I saw Boston was offering people refunds if they didn’t/couldn’t run in the fall. Right now I’m focusing on learning my hunger cues since I’m not training for anything and it’s good to get back to that. Before my race got postponed, I was in the peak so I felt hungry all the time from the mileage
My marathon was cancelled but I was able to find a virtual race where you share your mileage on Strava and they send you a medal! I decided to continue my training because those 4am 8mile runs before work were tough and I didn’t want to give it all up! I plan to run my marathon in my town in a safe way following social distance orders while wearing a face covering.