After devoting months of training to a half or full marathon, I finally completed that epic race. The coveted runner may have experienced a high, won a shiny new race medal and scored a fresh PR. Hopefully, you too can bask in the glory of the finish. But what now?
Of course, you want to keep your fitness level at its optimum without overtraining and losing everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. We’ve put together a running plan. Follow these tips to stay in shape between races, keep your motivation high, and your risk of injury low.
First, lean over and rest.
It’s 100% okay (and actually recommended!) to put your feet up and rest after the race. “I usually make a point of taking three days off completely. Then I resume my training on the cross,” says the former Olympic trials runner and Boston-based RRCA-certified runner. says his coach, Amanda Nurse.
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John HornerkampAn RRCA- and USATF-certified running coach with over 20 years of experience, he agrees it’s wise to listen to your body and take the rest you need after a big race.
As a general rule of thumb, rest as many days as you race miles, experts on both say.
Hard training takes a toll on your tissues, your skeletal system, your immune system, and even your nervous system, says Brian Beutel, a physiotherapist at The Restoration Space in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and owner of Forge Physio Fit. I’m here. That’s why rest and recovery are important to avoid crossing thresholds and risking injury and performance, Beutel says. (And not only will an injury prevent you from carrying out your maintenance plans, but it can also sideline you for much longer than your planned vacation.)
Remember: You may be ready to get back to running and training right away for your next race, but it’s important to be patient. Your body needs time to recover from the physical stress of long training hours and the race itself. “In general, a week off is not a bad move, and it actually helps runners get back into the ramp-up swing again instead of pushing forward too early. Time spent is time gained in hindsight — push, rest/recover, progress.
If you’re racing with an injury like a shin splint or a tight IT band, Hornerkamp says, more Take a break and focus on cross-training for a longer period of time before returning to running.
Beutel recommends focusing on these four points while recovering from a marathon or half marathon.
- Prioritize your sleep schedule
- Pay attention to nutrition and hydration
- Reduce your overall training volume by about 50% in the first month or so and keep the intensity low.
- Remember Exercise Should Feel Good
Add strength training and cross training to your schedule
It’s wise to abstain from running for a few weeks, but withholding all activity can have a negative impact on your progress, Beutel says. “Movement can help relieve pain,” he says. Therefore, to maintain fitness, all you have to do is move in different ways.
“I usually suggest some form of exercise right after a long run or marathon that will make you feel good and keep your energy, mood, sleep and stress in check,” adds Beutel. For example, if you are accustomed to breathing fresh air while training, you don’t necessarily have to give it up. Consider switching your regular running to a long walk, light hike, or bike.
Strength training and cross-training are naturally on the back burner during race training. But once the finish line is crossed, it’s a good time to put them back into the maintenance execution plan.
Hornerkamps suggests starting strength training with your own body weight after the race. Target core work like planks and other key movement patterns like squats, deadlifts and lunges without dumbbells. He says it’s safe to go right back to his bodyweight exercises if he’s feeling good, even just a few days after the race.
Nurses agree that once you’re exhausted from the race—no muscle soreness and feeling 100% energy restored—it’s a great time to start strength training. “It’s okay if you feel a little sore after strength training. [when you don’t have a long run or hard training session the next day] So it’s a good time to lift a little more weight,” she says. , gradually increase it.
Nurses say that in the first few weeks after a big race, running is usually three to four times a week to supplement cross-training.In addition to strength training, yoga, Pilates, cycling and swimming are all good options is.
Add Miles Gradually
Nurses recommend running in the 0-10 mile range for the first week after the race, then start increasing your overall mileage by about 10%-15% each week as you progress through your running maintenance plan. .
The first weekend of long runs after a big race shouldn’t be too long. “A distance of five to eight miles is perfect for a seven-day long run,” says the nurse.
Also remember that your first few long runs after the race should be easy and you should focus on your time on your feet, not your pace. Easy runs are low intensity in terms of effort, need to be able to hold a conversation, and are short to moderate in duration.
Think of it as time to let go of the schedule you were bound to during your workout and become more spontaneous with your running. Maybe it’s also time to practice a more intuitive or mindful run.
Working in a lightspeed session
Once you’ve dealt with these easy runs without pain, try speedwork. We know speed sessions don’t have to be all-out. Nurses are more effort-based in speed sessions when they’re working on running maintenance between races rather than trying to achieve a specific pace. “This is a great way to maintain speed and endurance and work on building running economy and form,” she says.
Fartlek runs are a good way to go when it comes to these effort-based intervals. This is a form of unstructured speed work and is not allowed to keep pace. To do that, find a point on the road or trail and pick up the pace when you need it. For example, he runs fast from one tree to the next, and the next he slows down after three.
Nurses also recommend adding strides at the end of a few runs each week as another way to sprinkle in some casual speed work. It’s a great way to pick up speed,” she says.
Hornerkamp reminds runners that this in-between time is a great opportunity to make their workouts more carefree. It could be a routine where you just do nice intervals or go to an easier tempo like picking it up when it feels good,” he says.
Essentially, a maintenance running plan gives you time to enjoy your freedom while challenging yourself and maintaining your speed and endurance without being tied to a specific training schedule. This low-key form of training benefits the mind as well as the body.
Execute all levels of maintenance plans
You can choose from three plans that give you the freedom to run and cross-train if you’re comfortable following a particular plan. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced (check out his first week of workouts to decide which one works best for you), these his four-week plans are: Helps maintain fitness. Before jumping into these plans, remember to take a few days, weeks, or even a month off after the race for R&R.
Jennifer Acker joins the editorial staff of Runner’s World and Bicycling in January 2022. A former freelancer, her writer and NCAA runner, she started running as a child and basically never stopped. She also loves the outdoors she loves adventures such as hiking, skiing and mountain biking.
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