OLD SCHOOL: After finishing your fall racing season, you dig out your winter training clothes from deep in your closet, cut back just a little bit on your running mileage, and push yourself out the door on those cold, dark mornings to get in your training runs.
NEW SCHOOL: Use the off season to build a better foundation for the coming year. The winter months are the perfect time to work on the kind of complete program I describe in Smart Marathon Training. Cut back on your running and focus on building strength in your core, spending more time on building overall body strength, doing your running drills, and getting in some quality cross-training. Not only will this make you a more fit runner for the next season, but it will provide you with a break from the same old grind. If your last season culminated with a marathon, a break from the old routine is probably just what you need.