Have you just finished going 26.2 or 13.1? This four-week plan will help you recuperate from the race, maintain your fitness, and stay injury-free. It starts with rest and cross-training to help your recovery, and gradually adds mileage and speed so that within one month of crossing the finish line, you'll feel as fit and fresh as you did before the race. All of the cross-training and easy runs should be kept at a relaxed pace at first - below 70 percent of maximum heart rate. Follow the plan, but also listen to your body. If you feel acute pain or have lingering fatigue, progress to the next week's training only when you can comfortably complete the preceding week's goal.
Run or walk for 20 to 30 minutes at a relaxed pace. Keep your effort level easy--no higher than 70% of your maximum heart rate. Months of marathon training and the race itself leave tiny tears in your muscles and bones. Those tears can heal as long as you give them time. If you come back too quickly, they can turn into stress fractures.
Run at an easy pace for 20 to 30 minutes. This is a good time to explore new routes in your neighborhood or hit the trails. Without the pressure of 'training' or the race, you won't have to worry as much about how much distance you cover.
Run at an easy pace for 30 minutes. Your joints and muscles take a beating over 13. 1 or 26.2 miles. To restore them, consider picking up your strength-training routine, or starting a new one. Keep the weights light; you don't want to put too much stress on your system.
Run for 30 to 45 minutes at your typical long-run pace. Just focus on feeling comfortable. Don't worry about speed. This may not feel like a very 'long' run compared with the mileage you were logging before the marathon, but it will get you back in the habit of doing one long run each week. Even if you're not planning to race anytime soon, it's good to keep a weekly long run to maintain your fitness year-round.
Run easy for 30 minutes. Try running on softer surfaces, like grass and trails. This will lessen the impact on your muscles and joints, and will keep you from going out too fast.
Run easy for 30 to 45 minutes. If you're ready, add 6 to 8 pickups of 100 meters or so. Focus on quick leg turnover while remaining relaxed. If you get that dead-legged feeling during your runs, you may be feeling lingering fatigue from recent workouts. Be sure you're warming up enough. Start every run with a 2- to 3-minute walk.
Run for 30 to 40 minutes. As you're recovering from the race, be sure to turn in early. Your brain and body need sleep to recover from the stresses of training and the four-month build up to the race. Aim for a solid seven to eight hours of shut-eye each night.