Perhaps you’ve already run your fall marathon, or maybe your marathon is coming up shortly.  You might be wondering what you should do afterwards to get back to running strongly.
     To answer that question you have to gauge how much damage you did to your body in your race.  If you raced hard, the rule of thumb is that you need an easy day of recovery (though not necessarily complete rest) for every hard mile raced.  After a hard marathon effort, then, you might need up to four weeks to feel like your old self again.
     In addition to that general rule, however, there are several considerations:

  • Did you run negative splits?  If the answer is yes, you might be on the road to a faster recovery, since you did not push your body to its very limits.
  • If you did run slower in the back half of your race, was it due to fatigue or something else?  If it was fatigue, then you might need a month or more to fully recover.  But if it was due to dehydration or cramping – issues that can slow you down but which do not indicate that you have caused damage to your muscles – then your recovery might be faster than you expected.
  • How sore were you the following few days?  The more sore you are, the more recovery you need.

     In general, you should aim for your recovery plan to mirror your race taper, and then adjust it up or down according to how you answered the above questions.  Spend the first day or two after the race just walking easily, and then spend some time cross-training.  By the weekend after your race, you should be ready for some easy running.  Good luck!


About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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  1. David Dobson says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for the book! I had just written a long comment asking a few questions. And then I hit a stray button and it went bye bye. Long story short, what tips would you give on adjusting your plans for shorter races like 5k/10k. Especially the tempo run and cross training volume. Obviously, I will keep the hills/speed one day, and a long run building to 10 (currently at 8). Just curious what to do on tempo day as far as length and pace. I plan on using your intermediate half plan for a Feb 11th race.I am looking to pr in a 5k over the next 6 weeks and place in a Thanksgiving 4 miler before I start focusing on the half. I know you are a busy guy, but thanks for your time!

    David Dobson

    • horowitzrun says:

      Thanks for your message, David. Simply put, you would adjust the plan by reducing the training volume and workout distances, while increasing the tempo workout and interval workout speeds. As I explain in the book, it’s not as crucial to excced the race distance in training as you race longer and longer distances — basically anything over a half-marathon. But for 5Ks and 10Ks, I think it’s best to overtrain the distance. In other words, your long run for a competitive 5K should be well over the 5K distance — a 10-miler would be completely appropriate. And while I believe that 800m repeats are great overall speed builders, doing more 200m and 400m repeats at a faster pace would also be a good idea – something around 8-9 on the Rate of Perceived Exertion. The details on how all this would work depend on your specific circumstances and goals.

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