Yes, I'm entering my offseason, but I've also got 7+ months to think about and prepare for Western States next year. Right now, I definitely need to take a break, both mentally and physically. I have to decide what will make the biggest difference in how I perform next year at Western States.
Should I take my current speed and train for another fast marathon attempt and then piggyback my ultra training on top of that speed?
Should I train like I have prior years, with lots of treadmill miles in the winter and increasingly longer runs on the treadmill, and then finally transition to outdoor running about the beginning of April? Should I focus on lots and lots of miles to the exclusion of almost everything else? That technique worked well for Hardrock, but is it the right approach for WS?
Should I move a lot of my winter training to the outdoors, covering fewer miles on my snowshoes, but hitting real hills and strengthening my feet for odd terrain along the way? I tend to be a slave to mileage at times and I probably need to get away from that. I would end up doing lots of snowshoeing in the dark, which can be kind of creepy in the middle of nowhere at times.
How much lifting should I do this winter? Should I change the focus of my lifting?
What about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which is a standard part of my training these days?
How much of my focus needs to be on my diet vs. my training? In reality, I think my diet may be where I can make the biggest gains. When I ran my marathon PR, my body weight was just under 170 pounds and my BF% was about 12%-14%.
When I got to WS this year, I was in the same 12%-14% BF range, but at a higher weight than when I ran my marathon PR. I'd love to show up for WS next year a bit lighter and perhaps at 10% BF rather than 12%-14% or worse. I've definitely gained some weight back since WS and I need to spend the winter dropping those pounds before I hit peak training mileage in the spring.
But for now, I'm relaxing and resting. I'm still pretty sore today. Some margaritas last night temporarily relieved the pain, but it was back this morning. Maybe by the weekend, I'll do some easy hiking with the dogs and I'll get back in the gym next week.