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2. Gain muscle instead of fat
The off-season is a good time to focus on strength training. Functional strength is important for running performance, but for most runners the development of functional strength necessarily takes a back seat to race-focused endurance training during periods of peak training. When the off-season arrives, you can take advantage of the time freed up by your de-emphasis of endurance training to increase your commitment to functional strength development and create a reserve of strength that will carry you through the next competitive season. A side benefit of this tactic is that it will add muscle mass to your body and thereby reduce off-season fat accumulation.
Gaining muscle mass reduces fat accumulation in a couple of ways. Building muscle requires calories, and as more of your food calories are channeled into making muscle, fewer are left over to be channeled into your fat stores. Also, a lot of energy is required to maintain muscle tissue once it’s been created. It takes 30 to 50 calories a day to maintain a pound of muscle, compared to only two calories per day for a pound of fat. So if you gain two pounds of muscle during the off-season, there will be 60 to 100 fewer food calories available for storage as body fat.