I read a great Runner's World article that was posted to Twitter over the past couple weeks (article was originally from November 2013). It tackled the delicate subject of "down time", which can be difficult for runners of all levels to come to grips with. For many, injuries force a reprieve from running/training. For me personally, I typically try to schedule at least 1-2 weeks of offseason three times a year (around the New Year, in late spring and in early fall).
This article is great because it emphasizes that our bodies do need a break, and that doesn't necessarily mean stop running. I think the author summed it best when the offseason is just a chance to do things you might not ordinarily do, including biking, hiking, swimming, etc. It not only allows your body a chance to recover, but you can re-energize/motivate yourself into the next big training cycle.
For me, I am in a difficult place for training. I signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon on October 4th, and even with planning a twelve week training cycle, I have a 4-6 week dead period where I feel as though my running does not have direction. It is too early to start training for Twin Cities, but I don't want to take off this time completely.
As a result, I ran my second ever, official trail race last weekend. It was a 10k, and the course was muddy/swampy from the week's rain. The race proceeds went to a charity (Hands, Hearts and Paws dog rescue) that is near and dear to my wife and I's hearts. We adopted a rescue dog (Henry) last November, and part of the proceeds from the race went to benefit his rescue organization. I had a great time at the race, and an even better time supporting a local organization that we are passionate about. For me, there was no better way to spend an offseason Saturday than running a race I ordinarily would not have run for a great charity.
The complete article from the 2013 Runner's World magazine can be found here.