Let’s jump right into the middle. A Downweek or off week is a section to unload an athlete. It is to recover, refresh, reflect and think and rethink, plan and replan. It can be in certain very hard periods 1 week on / 1 week off or one week off each 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th week. Even in big base training when building mileage and doing strength work, a Downweek is obligatory. Don’t forget that adaptations happen when resting and recovering and it is part of training.
How to choose when ? If you had a coach, he would observe your running form, your splits and communicate with you. If you were training alone, self observation and self understanding are both obligatory. Also some knowledge on training. If you are just not ready for this there is a simple advice.
2 weeks of training, 1 week moderate, 2 weeks of training, 1 week down.
My personal choices. I do not like to take training volume to a lower level personally. Why ? I am not only a runner. I am a mover and a very active person. I am somebody loving the outdoors and absolutely craving being outside in nature. That is part of my daily routine and personality.
What I do is for sure decreasing intensity a lot. I also increase frequency to actually decrease the volume of individual workouts. I do not have any runs or training sessions going without preceding mobility and post workout flexibility. So a higher workout frequency will also mean more mobility, flexibility and activation work. Further enhancing recovery.
Instead of cutting training volume, I cut unnecessary stuff and put it towards napping and sleeping.
How do I decrease running intensity ? I might choose for instance 3 to 4 runs, where I focus on heart rate. I might do my long run with more nutrition than usual, with more hydration, but also with more walking breaks and slower.
A track workout if went with the club would be greatly modified. For instance my clubmates would go for 12 x 600, but I would be running with them at 600 pace, by doing alternating 200 and 300s and only 8 or 10 of those.
I also might replace some running volume with appropriate cycling or nordic walking. That would be very beneficial as well to unload the limbs.
Unstress the body is important too. Staying put without noise, music, tv, phone. Maybe read a book, yeah a real one with paper in it.
This is too right for eating. Even if I am rushed through a 12h day, I mostly eat properly. However, during a planned downweek, I for sure would pop in home, sit down and eat a quality meal, slowly and surely. It is small, but still a game charger !
I hope that these small ideas help you to plan out your downweek.
Questions ? Post it !
On a micro level: how should/could a rest “day” look like? Is it a day of literally doing nothing or is there room for even a walk, a run…