For me, January is always a strange month. It’s usually the one month in the year that I have no races planned. I always have a race the first weekend of February (Superbowl 10k in Santa Cruz!), but January is a big empty space. What is a girl addicted to running to do?

January means a month of training and recovery. Leading up to Christmas, I unintentionally ran 5 races in 5 weeks (half marathon, 5k, marathon, 5k, 5k), and typically I run anywhere from 12-20 races in a year. After all that racing, my body needs a break. And that’s why January is an important month for me.

I don’t give up my running schedule. In fact I’m training for three marathons this year (and will be completing the LA-SF marathon – see fellow SFM ambassador Chris’s posts about this) and have been averaging mileage in the high 40s each week. But I am also taking the time to remind myself why I love running other than the high of racing. Lately, I have been doing a lot of runs by myself. This usually means listening to a lot of music and podcasts, but this month I’ve left the ipod at home. I’ve enjoyed many of my runs without anything to listen to and it’s been great. I have focused on my form and my pace and enjoying my surroundings. I have run in new locations, including in the freezing snow during an impromptu trip to Lake Tahoe. I have also been trying some new workouts out, including Body Pump (have you tried it? It’s HARDCORE!) and a return to spin class after years of not going. Finally, the last weekend of the month my local running team hosts an event that allows me to test my speed out and see how this training has paid off.

Having a month off from racing can be difficult for those of us addicted to it, but it is an important component of training and keeping our bodies healthy.

What do you do when you have time off from racing?