I just ran my first marathon two weeks ago and although it went well and I feel like I trained appropriately for the challenge I still feel like I'm not back to 100% yet. I have only been able to do short 3-5 mile slow runs since then and I'm wondering if you have any post-marathon tips for how to train AFTER the race is done. Not planning on doing another one until later this year, but I just feel like I am going to waste the last 8+ months of training if I don't get back to it quickly.
Congratulations on achieving your first marathon! But understand that you just put your body through some major stress and it is going to take time to get back to your old running self. It always frustrates me, every time I compete, that I can hardly run for weeks after my race as my body will not allow me to. You go from being in the best running shape of your life to the worst.
The rule I live by is I give myself 1 – 3 days off for every hour of competition. So, if my marathon takes me 3 hours and 30 minutes I will take off 4-10 days. Once I have rested I get back into my regular activity but I stay away from running. And you will not waste the last 8 months of training, I promise.
In a periodized program, after your peak race you should spend roughly six weeks cross training, to allow your body to continue to recover as well as mentally give you a break from your sport. What you should do for the next 4 weeks is try new things. Get into the pool and swim, or try cycling (or a spin class), or yoga (which will help you recover even quicker), or hiking or focus on strength training. Just do whatever you feel like and leave your heart rate monitor and your expectations at home.
Allowing yourself a break like this will have you craving running again. You may feel slightly fatigued when you lace up your shoes again but 3 or 4 runs later you will be feeling just like you were at the start line and ready for your next race.
Attached -- Topher Grace heads to the gym.