We want to train to the best of our ability from 1 cycle to the next, whether chasing a PR or just wanting to cross the finish line without stepping into the “pain cave.”
We suggest athletes approach the weeks following a race as thoughtfully as they did the weeks leading to it.
Neglecting recovery can put an athlete at risk of injury, potentially compromising their immune system and ultimately digging a metaphorical hole that will be hard to climb back out of.
But when it comes to maintaining all those hard-earned fitness gains combined with the excitement from finishing a goal race, we genuinely understand wanting to get back out there.
So, let’s put some strategy into the process.
One important thing to note:
When some hear the word “recovery,” it’s assumed this means “sedentary, ” which is not the case in this scenario. If maximum effort is given, we DO want athletes to take some time for actual rest, but sedentary rest is usually a minor piece of an intelligent recovery plan.
Here are some general guidelines for recovery post 5K -Marathon distances:
- 5K – 10K: We recommend 5-7 days off running regimented or with any intensity. The 5K-10K distances may seem short compared to the marathon distance, but the intensity can still cause a lot of stress on the body. It’s wise to use the post-race weeks as strategically placed planned break from training.
After the 5–7-day period, most athletes can begin easing back into a regular training routine.
- 13.1 We recommend 3 – 7 days off running altogether. The exact number of days you choose will depend on how long you were on your feet and how experienced you are in racing that distance. During the 3-7 days off running, we suggest incorporating 2-3 brisk walks, gentle yoga, and PNF stretching.
- 26.2: We recommend 7 – 14 days off running altogether. The 1st run back post half or full marathon is one we want to approach with caution. Run EASY (or slower than easy) and take the time to listen to your body and any aches/pains that arise. When in doubt, take another rest day, or even week off.
After those initial weeks of recovery, we use “Reverse Tapering” when an athlete is ready.
Reverse tapering is a great way to get back into the groove of training in a progressive way that allows an athlete to be ready to race again. If an athlete has a larger timeframe before their next goal race, strength-building, speed development, and volume-building are all great options for an off-season focus.
It’s about staying healthy enough to do what we love. By partnering with a coach or creating a recovery plan, we can avoid common mistakes that lead to overtraining, injury, and burnout. Most importantly, we can keep running and building on those hard-earned fitness gains.