By: Laura Mitchell

After a successful campaign last season, it’s easy to want to keep racing and training.  I made continuous improvements from 800 to 5K, which I hadn’t seen in years; that culminated with a win at Congress Avenue Mile.  I felt fit, I wasn’t injured, and a part of me just wanted to “KEEP GOING!”

But…if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 21 years of competing, it’s the importance of a break and OFFSEASON.

So after one last 3K at Rice, I decided to shut it down.  Just as we have the discipline to train; running day in and day out, we have to have the discipline to back off.

OFFSEASON: It has its positives.

It allows me to recover, back off the intensity and lay off on the pace.  I don’t have to mentally gear up for racing and I get to gradually work on things for this season.  After a little break of NO running, I began to start back up with the mileage.  Most of my teammates do well in this category.  Anyone who knows me knows I like the “short, quick stuff” compared to the longer runs, but the good part is- I don’t have to run as fast!

Even though the base phase isn’t my cup of tea (especially inside the freakin furnace of Austin this summer), I was committed to give it a shot.  I mean all kidding aside, I know how important this part is to my strength and I’m finally strong enough to take on more.  I know it will pay dividends later this season.  It’s not as glamourous as hitting low-30sec 200s, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I have nice long churn.  Hey marathoners:  I do have a great deal of respect for you and when I tackle my races this year I’ll keep all the miles I’ve run in mind.

So for the past 2yrs, while everyone for the most part is training for a marathon or the 3M Half, I race a mini cross country season, winding up with a 6K at the USATF National Club XC Championships Dec. 10th.  Although there aren’t many races in town to practice with, I start doing my workouts on the grass at Zilker and I manage to find a few XC races around town.  It’s a bit of a different animal to run on terrain (grass, trail) than on just roads, which I welcome as I nice way to mix things up. I kicked it off by doing a “rust buster” 4K XC race followed by the IBM 10K two days later.

While I don’t recommend doing 2 races in a weekend, I can sort of be a “Maverick” at times, and I thought, “why not Iceman!”  After discussing with Carmen (my coach) how the XC race is first (that being the focus) and knowing that I’d be running on whatever gas I could muster up for the 10K, I was mentally prepared to give it a go.  Call it my way of attesting to the strength I’ve gained from OFFSEASON.

Maybe it sounds crazy, and it surely isn’t the first time I’ve been told that!  Haha!  But, it went well, I learned some things I can work on race tactic-wise from the 4K and running a 10K under 7min pace was a great testament to the strength I gained.


*Oh and Shoutouts to all who encouraged me along the 10K IBM course!  Loved the high 5s and hollers, “2 races in one weekend! Get after it!”


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