Training Update: Post-Marathon Recovery

Since running a marathon a few weeks ago, I’ve been doing what I can to aid the marathon recovery process – it’s no joke. Naturally, this process involves a lot of laziness and baked goods. Some wholesome foods too, but the baked goods were a priority.

The marathon was really tough on my IT band and glutes. After the marathon, my walking posture was weird because my glutes were shot to hell. I couldn’t fathom standing up for any length of time. For this reason, I waited longer than I should have (several hours) to even take a shower!

I referred to this article on marathon recovery for a general framework of a recovery plan. I didn’t follow it to the letter because I was trying to be very in tune with my body. If you’re looking for a blueprint for marathon recovery, I’d recommend the article, as it walks through the science of marathon recovery. Getting an overview of the science behind the recovery process really helped me understand the importance of taking it easy even after my body didn’t feel sore anymore.

Week 1: 40 min cross-training, 35 min running

Race Day: Walked to car post-race, just over half a mile. This walk probably took at least 20 minutes. Should have taken an ice bath but didn’t.

Days 1-4: Rest, rest, rest. I even drove to work instead of walking half a mile to the train station. Did some very light foam rolling. By day 3, all lingering muscle soreness was gone.

Day 5: 30 minutes cycling on the stationary bike & 10 minutes of core work. After this little workout, I gained a better appreciation of the necessity of an extended marathon recovery period. I was exhausted all afternoon at work (I worked out at lunch).

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: 35 minutes of really easy running. I didn’t take my Garmin and ran an unfamiliar route. Once I hit 35 minutes, I walked the rest of the way home. The walk was about half a mile, and it felt awesome.

Week 2: 19 miles running

Day 8: Rest

Day 9: 4.1 miles of easy running @ 11:24/mile; light hip strengthening work (clamshells, bridges, and sideways shuffles with a resistance band, for lack of a proper term)

  • This run was harder than I planned for it to be. I took a new route from my office, and it had #allthehills, but somehow lacked consistent sidewalks. Damn you, Buckhead.

Day 10: Rest

Day 11: 4 miles of easy running @ 11:13/mile; core

  • Night run.

ATL Skyline

Days 12-13: Rest

Day 14: 8 miles of easy running @ 11:01/mile

  • The last mile was harder than I would have liked it to be. Possibly should have stopped at 7.

Day 15: 3 miles easy @ 10:47/mile; strides

  • I did 4 very relaxed strides after this run, and I felt so stiff during the first one! It felt like I was running through a puddle of glue. I felt much looser and more comfortable during the last two, so I think the strides were a really good thing to do at this point in the recovery process.

Week 3: 27 miles running

Day 16: Rest & travel

Day 17: 4 miles easy @ 10:52/mile; strides; hips

  • Easy run in Tennessee. Strides started to feel normal.
Germantown, TN

Thanks to the power lines for the running trail.

Day 18: 6 miles w/ 6 x 1:00 @ 10k pace; 90 sec recovery

  • I used this run to ease back into midweek workouts post-marathon. I did the midweek workout from my last taper week to get back into the swing of faster running. My pacing was totally off: the 10k pace repeats ranged from 7:44/mile to 8:37/mile. I was shooting for 8:20/mile.

Day 19: Rest & Christmas Day

  • Started off the day with Irish coffee and gift-giving. No need to run after all that.

Day 20: 5 miles easy @ 10:22/mile; strides; core

  • Finally, back to the pre-marathon-training easy pace. Increasing my mileage during marathon training really slowed me down. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Day 21: Rest, travel

  • I was planning to run 3 miles, but it was almost dark when I got home from Tennessee, so I decided to take the day off.

Day 22: 12 mile long run @10:55/mile

  • The good: I ran a hilly route that I did early in marathon training, and it felt easier than I remembered.
  • The bad: There was no reason for me to run this far. The last mile of the run felt harder than I should have been running in the late stages of marathon recovery. I think a 10 mile run would have been more appropriate for me at this stage of recovery.

I’m really pleased with how my marathon recovery has progressed. I didn’t get sick, I kept all my toenails, and my body is able to handle nearly 30 miles a week without much fuss. I intended to add cross-training (kickboxing, yoga, possibly spinning) during weeks 2 and 3 post-marathon, but I forgot how much easier it is to just lace up and go for a run than to attend a scheduled class. Or go to trivia and drink beer. Or take care of holiday-related errands. Even with the nonexistent cross-training, I didn’t expect recovery to go this well.

In the coming weeks, I don’t plan to increase my mileage much if at all, but I do plan to add cross-training and maybe even spend some time in the gym strength training. I’m going to start some 5k specific training for the next couple of months, but it will be low-key. I’ll be doing fartleks rather than track workouts, and my weekly mileage will be in the mid 20s to low 30s. This should be enough to be in good shape for half marathons in mid-March and late April. I also plan to keep up with the trivia and beer. 🙂

In other news, I decided on my spring race schedule – if you’re interested in racing 5ks in the Atlanta area this spring, check it out and consider joining me for a race.

What tips & tricks have you found helpful for post-marathon recovery? Do you run the week after a marathon or hold off? Cross-train or jump right back into running?
Leave a comment or send me a tweet @racingoprah if you plan to run any of these races!


4 thoughts on “Training Update: Post-Marathon Recovery

  1. Wow! Your recovery weeks sound like my peek marathon training weeks. Good for you for sticking with an amazing plan to keep up your running post marathon! No wonder you are eying the spring marathons. You’re all ready to go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I can’t wait to hear how your 10k training goes with the Believe journal. I started mine this week! No spring marathons for me, just 5ks and half marathons, but right now I’m thinking I’ll enter the Chicago lottery. NYC is just too early. We will see!


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