Hal Higdon: Marathon Recovery--Intermediate: Recovery after the marathon should begin almost the minute you exit the finish chute. This 5-week post-marathon training program for Intermediate runners is designed to help you heal your wounds and recover as rapidly as possible so you can move on to new goals. Each day I will send you an email telling you what to run and offering training tips. For more information and directions, visit my website: halhigdon.com.
Okay, you’re cleared to run again, but don’t overdo it. The final workout for Interemediate runners the week before the marathon was a couple of miles of gentle jogging with maybe 2-3 strides in the middle. That sounds about right for the first week after the marathon too.
Now is the time to cross-train. Swim or bike if that is your pleasure, but it’s probably not a good idea to start some new exercise you haven’t been doing the previous 18 weeks. The best cross-training discipline for a recovering marathoner is simple walking. Don’t underestimate the value of this activity. Go at most 2-3 miles.
By now, most of the muscle soreness should be gone. You’re probably ready to resume your regular training routine, but don’t rush things. Stick with the 2- to 3-mile routine today. Or maybe take today off entirely.
Quite often marathoners who did their long runs together in the months leading up to a marathon like to get together to rehash how they did. So call your friends and schedule a run of about an hour, 6 to 8 miles max. But don’t get competitive and push the pace too hard.
In the first post-marathon week, just passed, I recommended that you do very little running. But I did clear you to run for an hour on Sunday with friends to rehash your marathon experience(s). If you followed that advice, you may feel fatigued from what might have seemed like a low-mileage run a month ago. But you're now in post-marathon mode. Make today an easy day, a very easy day. Monday was always a day of cross-training during your marathon buildup, so it is the same during the post-marathon period. Spend a half hour biking, swimming, walking or doing whatever non-running activity you did before. During the following four weeks, I'm going to tell you how to build back to a steady state of training.
As was the case during the 18-week marathon training program, Tuesday is a day when we do an easy workout. No particular set pace; just go out and run. How about a three-miler today?
Today's the day we introduce you to repeats. After an easy warm-up of about a mile, run 3 x mile at the pace you ran the marathon, walking or jogging 3-5 minutes between each repeat. Finish with a mile cooldown. Here's how to do the workout: After your warm-up, run a mile at marathon pace, walk or jog 3-5 minutes, run another mile same pace, walk or jog, then finish with a final repeat, cooling down afterwards by jogging or walking your final mile. Marathon pace isn't that fast; you can do it. That gives you a total of about 5 miles for the workout.