As my training plan by Hal Higdon says, “Generally, it takes a minimum of two to three weeks for the body to recover from the strain of running 26 miles 385 yards. Return too quickly and you increase your risk of injury. Some experts suggest resting one day for every mile you run in the marathon, thus 26 days of no hard running or racing!”
So what should I be doing now? I just finished 18 weeks of regimented training, and now what? Well, “the training you do in the three weeks following a marathon should be a near mirror of what you did the last three weeks before: in other words, an upward, or reverse, taper.” Here is a recommended plan, starting with zero week in pink, followed by 4 weeks of working to build back up to a steady state of training:
Saturday: After the race, besides being super happy and proud of myself, I knew I needed to focus on refueling so that I wouldn’t crash. Just because I was done running did not mean I should stop drinking water and Gatorade! I tried eating some pizza that they provided at the finish line, but my stomach wasn’t quite ready for food yet, and wouldn’t be for a few more hours. The advice to keep walking and moving after the race is good advice, and a long walk to the car won’t hurt you, but after that, it was time to get off my feet with an ice bath, a warm shower, and a nap (with lots of Gatorade, water, and carbs during all of these). By early evening I was ready for a victory meal – and Matt said I could choose whatever I wanted, so I chose Mellow Mushroom pizza (I chose it for the delicious pretzels they make out of their pizza dough, oh, and the pizza is good too!)
After all the delicious food, we walked back to Matt’s apartment (about a 5 minute walk) which felt good for my legs. Then it was time for pajamas, more water, and a movie before I blissfully went to sleep on an amazing day!
Sunday: The next morning my legs felt about the same – sore quads, slightly sore calves, and really sore behind my right knee (Baker’s cyst perhaps?) but I was able to walk around pretty well (although it took me awhile to physically get out of a chair or off a couch and I had to lower myself slowly when sitting down). So for Sunday, “No exercise of any kind! Take it easy.” That I can do! Wanted to stretch my legs just a little, so Matt and I again walked down to the Corner for lunch at Little John’s and walked back, a total of probably 15 minutes of walking, which definitely helped.
Monday: A nice, relaxing day off today! “No running! Today’s a good day for a massage.” I used a gift card for a 30-minute massage that Matt bought me last year and it was well worth it! Even though I get ticklish sometimes, I could feel the knots in my calves and the sides of my quads being worked out, plus, who doesn’t love a great back/head/shoulder massage?! I also took today to order my 26.2 sticker for my car, because seriously, wouldn’t you do the same if you ran a marathon?!
Tuesday: “No running! Starting to train too soon can delay that recovery. You earned this period of rest. Take it!” Fair enough! Oh, and I went and got frozen custard for dessert, cause I deserved that too!
Wednesday: “Okay, you’re cleared to run again, but don’t overdo it… 2 miles of gentle jogging.” Excellent! I was excited all day for my little jog after work. The weather was super weird all day, alternating between raining, being sunny, and being really windy, lots of combinations of the three. It was 55 degrees, windy, sunny but lurking storm clouds. The run was nice, didn’t run with music or anything, just ran to run! It went like this: sunny, running into the wind, lots of wind, leaves in my eye, dust in my other eye, raining, windy rain, wind at my back, rain stops, sunny. This was all in 2 miles, amazing, haha.
Thursday: “Now is the time to cross-train. The best cross-training discipline for a recovering marathoner is simple walking. Go at most 2-3 miles.” Took a nice solo 3 mile walk outside after work. Just me and the iPod. I thought I might feel anxious to break into a run, but I felt pretty relaxed!
Friday: The recovery plan mentioned that by today most of my muscle soreness should be gone. I guess since I didn’t “race” the race, I recovered much quicker, because my muscles have felt good since Wednesday/Thursday. I’m also reminded that even though I might feel ready to get back in the game, “don’t rush things. Stick with the 2- to 3-mile routine today. Or maybe take today off entirely.”
Saturday: “Schedule a run of about an hour, 6 to 8 miles max. But don’t push the pace too hard. Your body may feel better again, but it’s still in recovery mode.” Yeeeeah, that didn’t go to well, but I shouldn’t be surprised. Barely had any water beforehand and was eating Nutella out of the jar for fun. Started the run out way too fast, was forced to walk, and just felt gross – I should’ve brought water along on that one. Proper food and fueling is soooo important.
Sunday: Rest day. Today will be a day to relax, read, run some errands, and maybe do some weights (which I’ve neglected since marathon training). Good old lazy Sunday! Can’t believe it’s been over a week since my marathon now – it feels sooo long ago… I haven’t felt any of the post-marathon blues like I expected I might – due to how weird I felt the week after I had to take off cause of my sprained ankle. In fact, I’ve been happy to embrace all the resting, but unfortunately my appetite is still sky-high. All week I’ve been super hungry as if my body thinks I’ll be running for hours and hours on end each day or something, so I’m sure there has been some post-marathon weight gain! I wish my body would realize we are in relaxing-mode, haha. At this point I just want to figure out what’s next and get to it. I’m also still trying to figure out what exactly to do with my blog – thanks to everyone who voted on the poll on the homepage!
Next up, I’ll figure out what my next big race is – let me know if you have any suggestions! (Marine Corps marathon for this year is already sold out of course, so that’s not an option!) Bye all, I have to go eat more now!