Generally, in my training, every third week is a scheduled down week. During the third week, my mileage is usually reduced by about a quarter. For example, last week’s mileage was 32. This week is a down week so my mileage will come in around 25. In addition to a reduction in mileage, all of my miles this week are easy miles meaning no speed work or tempo runs.
Down weeks are very helpful in training because they give your body time to rest and recover from rigorous training. Some athletes find that they are less injury prone when they take scheduled down weeks. Another added benefit is that many times performance is even stronger following a down week.
While you would think that you might have more energy during a down week because of the reduced mileage and/or workouts, the opposite can often occur. Says Pete Rea (coach of an elite running group called ZAP Fitness) “Athletes often feel sluggish and have lower energy during this week.” I think this is probably just your body recovering. I don’t know about you, but I often feel more tired on vacation or when I have time off!
If you feel like you have a ton of energy to burn during a scheduled down week, try your best to rein it in—your body will thank you later! It may seem hard to do, but it’s very important in the big picture of your training. I like to keep in mind the end goal (for me, a PR in my half marathon in March), so when I feel the urge to run more, I can remind myself that I don’t want to reduce the overall effectiveness of all my training.